ORDER OF THE STATE OF WISCONSIN NATURAL RESOURCES BOARD
AMENDING AND CREATING RULES
The statement of scope for this rule, SS 053-16, was approved by the Governor on June 3, 2016, published in Register No. 726A1 on June 6, 2016, and approved by the Natural Resources Board on June 22, 2016. The rule was approved by the Governor on April 6, 2017.
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board proposes an order to amend NR 25.08 (intro.) and to create NR 25.02 (38m), 25.06 (1) (c) and (Note), 25.07 (1) (b) and (Note), and 25.13 (1) (d), Wis. Adm. Code, relating to cisco harvest in Lake Superior and affecting small business.
Analysis Prepared by the Department of Natural Resources
3. Explanation of Agency Authority:
Section 29.014 (1), Stats., directs the department to establish and maintain conditions governing the taking of fish that will conserve the fish supply and ensure the citizens of this state continued opportunities for good fishing. Section 29.041, Stats., provides that the department may regulate fishing on and in all interstate boundary waters and outlying waters. Section 29.519 (1m) (b) and (5), Stats., authorizes the department to limit the number of Great Lakes commercial fishing licenses; designate the areas in the outlying waters under the jurisdiction of this state where commercial fishing operations are restricted; establish species harvest limits; designate the kind, size, and amount of gear to be used in the harvest; and require fishing records be submitted to the department. 4. Related Statutes or Rules: Section 29.973, Stats., Commercial fish reporting system. A similar emergency rule, FH-12-16(E), was enacted prior to this rule.
5. Plain Language Analysis:
Cisco are a key species in the Lake Superior ecosystem and are harvested in Wisconsin waters for commercial, angling, and subsistence purposes by state licensees and members of the Red Cliff and Bad River Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. This rule is needed to manage the long-term sustainability of the cisco population. Currently the commercial harvest season is open year-round and there is no size limit or harvest quota in place for cisco. The angling season is open year round in Lake Superior with a 10-fish daily bag limit per person and no size limit. Only a few hundred cisco are harvested by anglers each year.
Maintaining a healthy cisco population is important for several reasons:
• Cisco are an important species for both angling and commercial harvest. Cisco contribute to the local economy through the tourism and commercial fishing industries.
• Cisco are an important food chain link between trophic levels. They link the lower (zooplankton) to the upper (lake trout) trophic levels. Cisco are an important forage food for lake trout, a popular species which is seeing a decline.
• A decline in cisco could have negative consequences on whitefish and other near-shore fish, because the eggs of cisco are an important part of other species’ diets.
• Cisco reproduction is variable, with populations relying on strong year classes (fish born in the same year) to sustain them. This unpredictable year to year recruitment into the population can make cisco vulnerable to overfishing.
• The linkage between Wisconsin’s waters and those of other states and jurisdictions are not totally understood. It is possible that harvest in Wisconsin waters affects populations elsewhere in Lake Superior.
Section 1 creates a definition of cisco which is needed because the same species is also commonly referred to as lake herring.
Section 2 establishes that the total allowable annual harvest of cisco by state fishers in Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior will not exceed 7.5 percent of the most recent estimate of the biomass of cisco in Lake Superior. The department conducts hydroacoustics surveys to determine the biomass estimate, and harvesting up to 7.5 percent of the total cisco biomass each year is expected to be a sustainable level for the cisco population.
This section also establishes that the total allowable state harvest in the waters of Lake Superior may not exceed 1,497,900 round weight pounds in a calendar year. State commercial fishers must limit their total targeted harvest of cisco using gill nets from October 1 through December 31 to 1,317,900 round weight pounds. Throughout the year, state licensed commercial fishers, anglers, and department assessment surveys may harvest up to an additional 180,000 round weight pounds. The department shall subdivide the 180,000 pounds among the user groups.
A sunset provision establishes that, After January 1, 2021, the total allowable annual harvest of cisco by state fishers is not limited by a quota.
Section 3 establishes that each of the 10 state commercial fishing licenses in Lake Superior shall receive an equal individual licensee catch quota based on the total allowable annual cisco commercial harvest quota .
A sunset provision establishes that, After January 1, 2021, the total allowable annual harvest of cisco by state fishers is not limited by a quota and individual licensee catch quotas will not be established.
Section 4 states that, when quotas have been established, license holders may transfer individual licensee catch quotas for cisco to another license holder, an existing process for other commercial species.
Section 5 applies additional phone reporting requirements for harvest of cisco when harvest quotas have been established. From October 1 through December 31, commercial licensees who have harvested 70 percent or more of their individual licensee catch quotas for cisco must submit a daily fishing report to the department. Daily fishing reports shall be submitted by calling a phone number provided by the department.
6. Summary of, and Comparison with, Existing or Proposed Federal Statutes and Regulations:
The department is not aware of any existing or proposed federal regulation that would govern fishing in Wisconsin’s waters of Lake Superior.
7. Comparison with Similar Rules in Adjacent States:
Minnesota and Ontario establish a cisco harvest quota similar to this proposed rule. Michigan waters, under the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority, have a closed season and other Michigan waters have a limitation on the effort allowed, or the length of net and gear used to catch cisco.
8. Summary of Factual Data and Analytical Methodologies Used and How Any Related Findings Support the Regulatory Approach Chosen: