STATE OF WISCONSIN
DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATION
DOA 2049 (R 07/2011)
FISCAL ESTIMATE AND
ECONOMIC IMPACT ANALYSIS
Type of Estimate and Analysis
X Original Updated Corrected
Administrative Rule Chapter, Title and Number
NR 25.05 (1) (c), Wis. Adm. Code
Adding six days to the commercial harvest season for whitefish in Lake Michigan and Green Bay
Fund Sources Affected
Chapter 20 , Stats. Appropriations Affected
GPR FED PRO PRS SEG SEG-S
Fiscal Effect of Implementing the Rule
X No Fiscal Effect
Increase Existing Revenues
Decrease Existing Revenues
Could Absorb Within Agency's Budget
The Rule Will Impact the Following (Check All That Apply)
Local Government Units
X Specific Businesses/Sectors
Public Utility Rate Payers
Would Implementation and Compliance Costs Be Greater Than $20 million?
Yes X No
Policy Problem Addressed by the Rule
This rule change was requested by the Lake Michigan Commercial Fishing Board, which was established under s. 15.345, Wis. Stats., to advise the department regarding commercial fishing issues on the Great Lakes. The seven member Board includes five licensed, active commercial fishers; one licensed, active wholesale fish dealer; and one state citizen. The proposed rule extends the commercial fishing season for whitefish from the Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan and Green Bay for the benefit of Wisconsin commercial fishing businesses.
Summary of Rule's Economic and Fiscal Impact on Specific Businesses, Business Sectors, Public Utility Rate Payers, Local Governmental Units and the State's Economy as a Whole (Include Implementation and Compliance Costs Expected to be Incurred)
The department has determined that this rule would not adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, jobs, or the overall economic competitiveness of this state. This rule will have a positive economic effect on commercial fishing businesses as well as Wisconsin-licensed wholesale fish dealers. Increased revenues will contribute toward the health and welfare of these businesses. There would be no implementation or compliance costs expected to be incurred by the proposed rule. No fiscal impacts are expected for public utility rate payers or local governmental units.
Commercial fishing is managed in Wisconsin by a limited number of licenses, by harvest limits, and by individual transferable quotas. There are 65 available licenses for Lake Michigan. Since 1990, commercial harvesting of yellow perch, rainbow smelt, and chubs has declined significantly. As a result, whitefish are now the mainstay of the commercial fishery in Lake Michigan. The current open season for whitefish in Green Bay and Lake Michigan is December 1 through October 25, both dates inclusive. If this rule is promulgated, the projected added harvest of whitefish during October 26-31 is 137,184 pounds, which is the average harvest during October 20 25 over the last five years. In addition, as shown in the table below, the whitefish harvest limit was not reached in the 2010-11 fishing year, which ran from July 2010 to June 2011, and it is expected that additional harvest will not harm the whitefish population.
Whitefish Quota Holders
Harvest Limit (pounds)
Reported Harvest (pounds)
Percentage of Limit
The department estimates that the value to the commercial fishing industry of extending the whitefish season by six days is approximately $161,300 annually. This is a wholesale value which would increase if some of the catch is marketed retail, however, there are no available numbers for retail sales or value. The table below shows the reported value of whitefish harvests by fishing year.
The Natural Resources Board (NRB) approved an emergency rule (FH-22-11E) to extend the whitefish season for six days in October 2011. During the NRB hearing to approve the rule, Charles Henriksen, a member of the Lake Michigan Commercial Fishing Board and President of the Wisconsin Commercial Fisheries Association provided the following testimony: "This rule is necessary because of the difficulty and unpredictability that has recently beset the Lake Michigan whitefish harvest. Quagga mussels, cladaphora, and cormorants along with varying weather conditions have drastically altered our ability to fish and made an already challenging occupation even more difficult. The whitefish fishery is the last remaining success on Lake Michigan and for most whitefish fishers October is vitally important. Many of us produce 30-50% of our annual income in October and adding six days will be immensely beneficial and may be the difference maker to our survival in business. We give all the people of Wisconsin access to their wonderful renewable resource. Enacting this rule change will benefit and preserve the public welfare of our great state and aid the preservation and welfare of our first industry."
As of December 2, 2011, commercial fishers reported harvesting 78,416 pounds of whitefish less than the projected 137,184 pounds and 3,642 pounds of whitefish eggs during October 26-31, 2011, but not all harvest data had been reported.
Economic Impact - Request for Comments
Prior to the November 10-26 open period for economic impact comments, the department requested comments from all Wisconsin-licensed commercial fishers, the Lake Michigan Commercial Fishing Board, 17 port city mayors offices and the same cities' chambers of commerce, the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Wisconsin Conservation Congress, Wisconsin Federation of Great Lakes Sport Fishing Clubs, UW Sea Grant, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and Wisconsin-licensed wholesale fish dealers, as well as posted the proposed rule documents to the Department website and the Wisconsin Administrative Rules website. The department received the following comments:
Mike LeClair, President of Susie-Q Fish Company, Two Rivers, WI
The rule proposal FH-25-11 would be very beneficial economically to our business. We would be able to purchase 10 to 15 thousand pounds of whitefish in late October to process in our wholesale and retail markets over the winter months. Although our fishing season in Two Rivers is usually over by October 1st, it still would give us the opportunity to buy fish from fishermen in Door County the whole month of October. This rule also gives the restaurants and stores a fresh product for a longer time. As far as I can see, there are no adverse effects in ratifying this rule.
Ken Koyen, Commercial fisher, Washington Island, Door County
Mr. Koyen stated during a phone conversation with Department staff that he is opposed to the extension of the whitefish harvest season proposed in FH 25 11 because he thinks the extended catch time, along with a growing whitefish sport fishery, would be risky for the future population of whitefish. Mr. Koyen said he benefited economically from the extended season in October 2011, but he said the current season dates are fine. He said he was concerned that economic benefits may not be there in the future. Mr. Koyen noted that he fished during the six-day extension in October 2011 because he was unable to fish during the week prior to that time. He said that he caught a large amount during those six days: 300 pounds of eggs and 6,000 pounds of fish. He said he was concerned that a lot of eggs would not be allowed to spawn due to the extended season.
Robert Ruleau III, President Ruleau Bros. Inc.
As both a Michigan and Wisconsin Commercial Fisher, I would be in favor of extending the whitefish harvest from Oct 25 to Oct 31. I would though, like to see some cooperation between Michigan DNR and Wis DNR in treating the entire Upper Lake Michigan "Spawning" areas, such as Moonlight Bay and Big Bay deNoc with equal management...just because Wisconsin has come around to the Oct 31 end date, should not mean that Michigan should extend their season by one more week...that is not only not good for the overall stock of whitefish but also extremely harms the price and effects the few commercial fishers that try to fish the entire season...Instead of a 2-3 week spawning season fishery, which many are now undertaking...we need to get back to a year round fishery, to save both the fish and the Fishermen themselves.
Angie Schafer, Schafer Fisheries, Inc.
We feel that this will benefit our company in that we will be able to receive the fish in question for a longer period of time during one of our busiest sales seasons and don't see how this would affect our business negatively in any way.
Charles W Henriksen
I am commenting as a commercial fisherman, wholesaler, President of Wisconsin Commercial Fisheries Association and as a member of the Lake Michigan Commercial Fishing Board. As this was the most difficult fishing fall in most of our experience it is difficult to quantify the extended season benefit, but without the (emergency) rule change every fisher who participates in the fall whitefish harvest would have had their worst year ever. Not implementing this rule permanently will adversely affect our economic competitiveness. To put this in perspective: During October my business produced 50,000# - 40% in the extra six days - while this was still our smallest catch (by 17 - 65,000#), the extra time prevented a complete disaster. My business bought roe from 5 gillnet boats - all but 1 had 50-80% of their production during the extra six days. The one that did not had crew problems at the end and a couple excellent lifts just prior to the extension, they still produced 36% during the extra six days. It appears that we have only scratched the surface of what is possible, but in these difficult economic times the chance to compete for those extra days is vitally important in order to maintain an economically viable fishery. And there is no downside.
Jeff and Mark Weborg, J & M Fisheries
This rule not only positively affects us personally financially, but all of the people and their families that work with us. It also enables us to be more competitive economically with our counterparts in other states. This rule helps us to ensure more product to our buyers when it is most needed. We will have no increased cost as a result of this rule. We see no adverse affects of this rule.
Kurt Dramm, President of Dramm Corporation, Manitowoc, WI
Dramm Corporation supports adding six days to the whitefish commercial harvest. Dramm Corporation produces fertilizers from fish scraps for organic crop production. This product is also exported to nine foreign countries. Due to the lack of commercial fishing on Lake Michigan we have a very difficult time obtaining the quantity of fish scraps we require. The additional six days of whitefish fishing will help to supply fish for the strong demand for whitefish as a food and it will provide us with a few more scraps.
Paul Becker, Riverside Foods, Two Rivers, WI
The lengthening of the season will help Riverside Foods procure product that is from Wisconsin, USA versus bringing in product from a foreign country and keeping our monies local.
Based on these comments, the Department has determined that this rule would not adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, jobs, or the overall economic competitiveness of this state. The department consulted with Mr. Ken Koyen, a commercial fisher from Washington Island, who said he benefited economically from the emergency rule change but did not support the permanent rule because of potential future population and economic losses. He said he believes that additional information from the October 2011 harvest of eggs and fish as well as future harvests would need to be reviewed in order to know if extending the season would not adversely affect the commercial fishing economy in Wisconsin.
Benefits of Implementing the Rule and Alternative(s) to Implementing the Rule
As noted above, the extended season is for the economic benefit of Wisconsin commercial fishing and wholesale fish dealer businesses. Current abundance and recruitment data indicate Wisconsin's whitefish population is healthy. This fishery is managed through a quota system that controls the total annual harvest and, at present, whitefish harvest limits are not being reached. This rule will allow commercial fishing businesses to catch and sell more fish, and department biologists believe that the additional six days will not threaten whitefish stocks in Wisconsin waters.
Alternatives to implementing this rule:
If the rule would extend the season into November, angling pressure would infringe upon whitefish spawning time. Adequate spawning time is necessary for continued health of the population. Over the past 20 years, department biologists have noticed lower levels of whitefish egg production and delays in maturation. And because whitefish eggs are a highly-valued product of the commercial fishery, extending the harvest closer to the peak of spawning may result in a differential harvest of females over males, resulting in less spawning opportunity over time. For the past five years, whitefish assessment data show the harvest ratio has generally either favored males or been close to a 1:1 catch ratio.
If this rule is not implemented, commercial fishing businesses would have limited fishing opportunities compared with Michigan commercial fishing businesses that can fish for whitefish until November 1. Wisconsin businesses would miss the opportunity to earn approximately $161,300 during the extra six days of fishing. Department biologists believe that the six day extension to October 31 will not harm the whitefish population.
Long Range Implications of Implementing the Rule
It is expected that this rule would annually contribute to the economic viability of commercial fishing businesses in Wisconsin.
In consultation with entities that would be affected by this rule, it was determined that the rule would not adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, jobs, or the overall economic competitiveness of this state.
The proposed rule will not have an economic effect on public utilities or their ratepayers.
The department is planning to hold a public hearing on the proposed rule in January 2012 to solicit any additional comments.
Compare With Approaches Being Used by Federal Government
The department is not aware of any existing or proposed federal regulation that would govern commercial fishing in Wisconsin's waters of Lake Michigan and Green Bay.
Compare With Approaches Being Used by Neighboring States (Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota)
There is no Lake Michigan commercial whitefish harvest in Illinois. In Michigan, the season for licensed commercial fishers closes on November 1, while for tribal fishers it lasts one week longer.
Name and Phone Number of Contact Person
William Horns, Great Lakes Coordinator 608-266-8782