By CAITLIN COSTELLO
Capital News Service
LANSING– Anglers could take home more of their catch with potential changes to fishing licenses, and tourism could benefit as well.
Under current law, an angler can possess only one day’s limit at a time. Under a new House bill, anglers could possess three day’s limit if two day’s worth is processed.
“It is just common-sense legislation that allows people to fish for more than one day,” said Rep. Geoff Hansen, R-Hart, the sponsor.
The bill is intended to close a loophole in the law because anglers now can’t transport more than one day’s worth of fish, said Dave Nyberg, government and public relations manager for Michigan United Conservation Clubs.
He said he’s heard many stories of anglers being followed by law enforcement authorities and cited because they had more than the legal limit. Under the bill, they would be able to keep more fish without being cited as long as it is processed.
The maximum penalty for violating possession limits is 90 days in jail and a maximum $500 fine, said Daniel Eichinger, legislative liaison at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The DNR is analyzing the bill, but is confident it can work on it with legislators, he added.
James Stack, an angler from Royal Oak, said he hopes limits don’t get too flexible.
Stack said, “Fishing limits are put in place for a reason, and when people break them they disrupt natural fisheries and ecosystems.”
The bill would also create a 72-hour fishing license in addition to the current one-day and seasonal licenses.
Rep. Andy Neumann, D-Alpena said, many Michigan residents travel within the state to fish, and the change would encourage people to stay at a site for more than one day and bring money to local businesses and tourism.
Other representatives have signed on including, Joe Haveman, R-Holland; Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy; Barb Byrum, D-Lansing; Hugh Crawford, R-Novi; Steven W. Lindberg, D-Marquette; Kevin Elsenheimer, R-Kewadin; Paul Opsommer, R-DeWitt and Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City.
The changes would also benefit fishing tournaments because participants can catch more and keep more, said Jack Leonhardt of Saranac and a member of the West Michigan Walleye Club.
The club has about 300 members and holds seven fishing tournaments a year, Leonhardt said. It is working with legislators to change the licensing law.
The bill is in the House Tourism, Outdoor Recreation and Natural Resources Committee.
© 2009, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.