Tribal commission rules commercial fisherman made illegal catch
Written by Detroit News   
Tuesday, 25 January 2005 12:17
A panel with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians has ruled against a tribal fisherman accused of illegally harvesting 3,857 pounds of fish from Lake Michigan last fall.

The tribe's Natural Resources Commission late last week upheld a citation issued by state conservation officers to Tommy Battice, a resident of Custer in Mason County.

Battice was fined $250 and forfeited $1,141.90 paid by wholesalers for the whitefish and lake trout he caught. His commercial fishing permit was suspended for 30 days.

"This ruling shows that the tribe and in particular the Natural Resources Commission do take this type of thing very seriously," tribal spokesman Glenn Zaring said Tuesday.

Battice's attorney, Angela Sherigan, said she was disappointed and would appeal to the tribal court.

"I am very surprised that the decision came out this way," she said. "My client has maintained from day one that he did not do this."

Officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources issued the citation Nov. 6 after Battice docked his boat near Ludington.

During a hearing earlier this month at tribal headquarters in Manistee, DNR Sgt. Richard Bonner said he and another officer were tipped by the Coast Guard that a tribal fishing tug had entered Lake Michigan shortly after commercial fishing season had expired.

Regulations set by the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority, an organization representing five Michigan tribes, prohibit commercial fishing in parts of the Great Lakes from noon Nov. 6 through noon Nov. 29 to protect spawning.

Bonner said he and another officer used high-powered binoculars to observe the boat from shore. He said men on board appeared to be dipping fish onto the deck for several hours from large trap nets that had been set in the water.

Battice acknowledged catching fish that day, but insisted he stopped before the noon deadline. He said he didn't return to shore right away because he needed to repair holes in the nets.

 
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