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Wisconsin. State Conservation Committee (1915-27) / Biennial report of the State Conservation Commission of Wisconsin for the years 1915 and 1916
(1916)

Necessary legislation,   pp. 18-23 PDF (1.3 MB)


Page 21


BIENNIAL REPORT
and $50,000.00 for the propagation of fish and game. The total income
to Wisconsin from the various sources connected with the hunting and
fishing, such as summer resorts, tourists, and additional taxes paid by
the railroad companies because of their great increase in business in the
resort regions, may be safely placed at some five million dollars a year.
What moneys Wisconsin disburses for the protection and propagation
of fish and game is returned many times by the thousands of nonresidents
who yearly spend their summers and vacations in the state.
  There is not a man in our state interested in the commercial fisheries
of
the Great Lakes and Green Bay who will not agree that the law covering
the taking of fish from those waters is a farce; more than that, it is ridicu-
lous. Every man knows that something must be done to conserve the
fisheries of the Great Lakes. To secure cooperation and a united agree-
ment as to the proper laws among fishermen is an impossibility. The
fishermen of every port have their own ideas, and the gist of their idea
is
that they want no law at all. There is one point on which most of them
will agree and that is "Catch fish how, when and where you will,-any
size and any quantity." At every session of the Legislature new laws
are
enacted and old laws repealed. The laws of 1915 contain 15 pages of tables
supposed to cover the taking of fish from outlying waters. These 15
pages convey little or no information to the person reading them and it is
practically impossible today for any one to say just what the Wisconsin
laws are relative to the taking of fish from Lake Michigan and Green Bay.
Our laws on commercial fishing must be condensed to the following:
  The minimum mesh of gill nets.
  An absolute closed season on all varieties of fish.
  A law covering restricted areas.
  The regulation of the taking of fish by stipulating in the law the mini-
mum size of each variety of fish that may be had in possession.
  Cut the law down to these four items, have them just and reasonable,
within the bounds of true "conservation" so that the commercial
fisher-
man can obey the laws, then enforce the law. Such a law is simple and
every person reading it will understand it. Illinois, Minnesota and Michi-
gan all regulate the size of fish. The entire Dominion of Canada regulates
its fishing industry by stating in their laws in plain English the minimum
size of each variety of fish that may be had in possession during the open-
ing season. Fish less than such size are confiscated whenever and wherever
found, and the person having them in possession is brought into court
and fined. It is immaterial whether the person having them in possession
is a fisherman, fish dealer, or cold storage man-he is violating the Ca-
nadian law by having them in possession or under control. What is the
result? The merchants and wholesale fish houses refuse to accept under-
sized fish, and the fishermen regulate the size of their mesh and their
fishing operations so as not to catch immature fish. The law as to size
of mesh, depth of water or distance from shore is all nonsense. As I state
above, have the law cover the following:
  1. No gill net of a mesh less than 23j inch stretch measure.
  2. No gill nets of any variety to be set or used within one-fourth of a
mile of any harbor, pier or breakwater, or any stream emptying into Lake
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