Push to end Erie commercial fishing put off
Written by Dayton Daily News   
Thursday, 28 December 2006 14:19

Efforts by several legislators, with the backing of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, to ban commercial fishing on Lake Erie became dead in the water last week when the Ohio Legislature adjourned without passing the bill. It will be up to a new legislature and a new governor to decide the fate of Ohio's 18 commercial fishing licenses.

The legislators will have to start all over again. So we are likely to see those old trap nets on the big lake when we go fishing in 2007.

The movement against the license holders began because of recent convictions in Cuyahoga County courts of several firms and individuals, some involved in the illegal taking of 40 tons of yellow perch — about 2 million fish. More charges are pending.

As the legislature's adjournment neared, the proposed law began to change. Instead of a clear-cut buyout of all licenses, the language changed, locking out those in the future convicted of felonies for illegally taking fish.

In other words, the slate would be wiped clean. Those convicted in the past would get another chance.

"What it came down to was a lot of legislators objected to paying money to convicted felons," one observer told me.

If that's the case, that means in effect, being convicted of stealing fish from the people of Ohio saved their licenses.

There was also considerable sentiment to save the licenses for the few commercial anglers who were not convicted. Toward the end, the bills were amended to protect those license holders not convicted.

There was also a strong effort to put better safeguards in place that would help the Division of Wildlife detect cheating.

It's anybody's guess what will happen. You can bet those who proposed the ban will be right back on the attack early in 2007. And the commercial netters, happy to escape in 2006, will be back to defend their livelihoods.
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