DNR postpones AIS training and trailer decal program

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced this morning that it will postpone the new aquatic invasive species training and trailer decal program that was due to launch at the end of the month while legislators consider changes to the program, the agency said in a news release.

Under a law passed by the state Legislature in 2012, anyone trailering a boat or water-related equipment such as docks and lifts in Minnesota is required to take aquatic invasive species training and display a decal on their trailer. The effective date is July 1.

Here’s the rest of the news release:

“With the legislative interest in this educational program and ongoing discussions about possible changes, we are postponing the launch until we see if the Legislature acts this session to modify the program,” said Bob Meier, DNR assistant commissioner.

The DNR supports the education that would be provided under this law, but recognizes there are some concerns with the way the law is currently written. For example, people transporting boats on trailers through Minnesota to another destination are required to take the course and display a decal even if they don’t put their boat in Minnesota waters.

Since the training and decal are currently not required until July 1, the DNR wants to remind people that there will be time to see what happens legislatively and still take the course and receive decals. The agency will post any updates on trailers atwww.trailers.mndnr.gov and alert the media if there are any program changes.


DNR to further tighten Upper Red walleye limit

This news release from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources concerns upcoming changes in Upper Red Lake’s walleye limit:

Beginning Friday, Jan. 23, walleye regulations will become more restrictive on Upper Red Lake because of a record December walleye harvest, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The daily bag and possession limit will be two walleye, and anglers must immediately release all walleye
17- to 26-inches long. Only one walleye in possession may be longer than 26 inches. The current regulation allowed three walleye in the daily bag and possession limit.

Walleye fishing pressure and harvest continue to increase on Upper Red Lake despite more restrictive angling regulations that were implemented on Dec. 1, 2014.

“Fishing pressure in December was more than double compared to last December,” said Gary Barnard, Bemidji area fisheries supervisor. “High walleye catch rates and ideal ice travel conditions attracted a record number of walleye anglers to Upper Red Lake this winter.”

Walleye harvest is up 57 percent from estimates for a comparable time period last year, requiring some action to help curtail excessive winter harvest.

Upper Red Lake harvest restrictions are necessary to comply with a joint walleye harvest plan agreement with the Red Lake Band of Chippewa. For more information on Red Lake fishing regulations, see www.mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing.


DNR, BIA and Red Lake Nation renew Red Lake walleye recovery agreement

There was more good news in the ongoing story of the Red Lake walleye recovery today when the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Red Lake Nation and Bureau of Indian Affairs signed a new five-year memorandum of understanding to continue the cooperative management of the walleye population in the Upper and Lower Red lakes.

The signing took place during a brief ceremony in Red Lake, Minn.

“Red Lake Band members are pleased that our walleye have come back and our fishing community is revitalized,” Darrell Seki, chairman of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, said in a statement. “We are committed to ensuring that Red Lake walleye are managed sustainably in the future.”

Renewing this agreement will enable the Red Lakes Fisheries Technical Committee to continue its work to help protect this valuable resource, added Seki.

The participating entities signed off on the first walleye recovery agreement in April 1999. Buoyed by aggressive stocking, a moratorium on walleye harvest and stepped-up enforcement, the walleye population rebounded faster than anyone could have envisioned, and walleye fishing in state and tribal waters of Minnesota’s largest inland lake resumed in 2006.

In my years of reporting on the outdoors, the fall and rise of Red Lake and the crappie boom that rejuvenated the area’s tourism industry in the wake of the walleye collapse ranks right at the top of my favorite stories list.

The new MOU closely parallels previous 1999-2014 agreements and states that each entity will support the Red Lakes Fisheries Technical Committee, a joint panel of experts that recommends policies and practices to maintain a healthy fishery.

“We’ve come a long way in the past 15 years,” DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said in a news release, noting that the combined state and tribal harvest approached 1 million pounds in 2014. “By renewing this agreement, we are reaffirming our commitment to a successful process that has delivered excellent results.”

Walleye populations in Upper and Lower Red lakes collapsed in the mid-1990s after years of overharvest, and the technical committee formed in 1997 to address options for reversing the decline.