Jump to content
  • GUESTS

    If You  want access  to member only forums on FM, You will need to Sign-in or  Sign-Up now .

    This box will disappear once you are signed in as a member.

Recommended Posts

TGO says that he bought them from Bob LaTourell. The writer didn't seem to bother following up with the source of the ciscoes. Either TGO and/or LaTourell lied about the source or it truly is a witch hunt. This doesn't seem like a hard case to crack. Luckily we have 8-10 federal employees working on it day and night.

  • Thumbs Up 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Frustrating to hear this news.  Whole frozen bait is getting harder and harder to come by.  I hope it's a frivolous report to the FWS by someone on a witch hunt for the bait market - and I hope they get slapped pretty good for it if it is.

 

I've been considering a road trip to the closest cisco dealer since Morey's quit selling hooligans - due to regulatory hassles.  More and more regulation every year. :(

Edited by Wanderer
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are probably other articles, but this was on the back page of the Strib yesterday morning:  http://www.startribune.com/feds-suspect-bwca-outfitter-of-smuggling-baitfish-out-of-canada-for-cash/407240066/

 

It says that the outfitter (LaTourell's) is alleged to have illegally caught the ciscoes on the Canadian side of the BWCA for years, under surveillance from authorities. It sounds like they confiscated the ciscoes from TGO as a part of that investigation, not necessarily because TGO did anything wrong. I suppose it's similar to when you unknowingly buy stolen property. You don't get to keep it and you don't get compensated. You need to return it.

 

Hopefully this all gets worked out.

  • Thumbs Up 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Stuff from Timberjay.....

 

Cisco netting

It’s time for the Forest Service to revisit the intent of the 1964 Wilderness Act

Posted Tuesday, December 27, 2016 1:00 pm

It appears that officials on the Superior National Forest are misreading the 1964 Wilderness Act as it pertains to commercial uses. At a minimum, the Forest Service is interpreting the law inconsistently.

Here’s what we know: Among other things, the 1964 act states, “there shall be no commercial enterprise and no permanent road within any wilderness area designated by this Act…”

The interpretation of what constitutes a “commercial enterprise,” has been left to the courts, and there are a handful of cases that have provided some guidance for federal regulators, but none of the cases we’ve reviewed suggest that netting ciscoes at Prairie Portage constitutes a violation of this provision of the Wilderness Act. Court cases are typically decided on the individual facts, and the facts in these previous cases are much different from the issues raised at Prairie Portage.

First, a caveat— this is a separate issue from the claim that ciscoes might have been caught across the border and brought into the U.S. improperly. We’ll leave that issue to be proven by law enforcement. For us, the issue is the Forest Service’s current misreading of the prohibition on commercial enterprises.

Two relatively recent court cases do help to clarify what constitutes a commercial enterprise. In the case of the Drake Bay Oyster Company, the Interior Department denied a longstanding permit for an oyster farming operation and associated restaurant in a newly-created federal wilderness in California.

This would seem a rather clear-cut case of a commercial enterprise. This didn’t involve simply harvesting oysters. The company farmed oysters and sold them at their own establishment within the wilderness. As legal advisors to the Forest Service have previously stated, a commercial enterprise, would be something like “a Walmart or a McDonalds.”

The second case, Alaska Wildlife Alliance v. Jensen, involved commercial salmon fishing in an Alaska wilderness area. The courts found that the commercial fishing constituted a “commercial enterprise,” but here the facts mattered. In their decision, the judges cited actual impacts to the wilderness and wilderness users, including the noise of large commercial vessels, dangerous wakes to kayakers exploring the wilderness bay in question, as well as trash and injuries to wildlife, such as sea lions, from the fishing operations.

It was such impacts that gave the wilderness advocates standing in court. If you can’t legitimately claim injury, you don’t have business in a civil courtroom.

In the case of cisco netting, who would profess harm? The netting is very small scale and takes place shortly before freeze-up, when the area in question is deserted. Despite decades of cisco netting at Prairie Portage, the Forest Service has apparently never received a single complaint. Indeed, the Forest Service didn’t even know about it until two years ago, when a DNR official contacted them about storing bait nets on the site, to reduce the risk of introducing invasive species on other nearby lakes.

Furthermore, netting ciscoes at Prairie Portage is perfectly legal, a fact that even Forest Service officials will acknowledge. The individuals conducting the bait harvest there are fully licensed and permitted by the state of Minnesota (yes, we checked) and it is the Minnesota DNR that sets the rules and regulations for the taking of fish and wildlife in state waters.

The only reason the Forest Service contends the activity is improper is because the ciscoes are being sold as bait, but that activity happens outside the wilderness on non-federal lands. What business is that of the Forest Service?

To make the situation even more ridiculous, consider this. As far as the Forest Service has determined, it’s legal to trap furbearers, like marten, fisher, beaver, or otter, in the Boundary Waters, even though the vast majority of those pelts are ultimately sold to commercial fur brokers. We don’t mention this to give the Forest Service ideas of another traditional activity to discourage, but to point out the utter inconsistency of their application of the law as it pertains to cisco netting.

We believe the Forest Service has an easy way to address this issue in a consistent manner. If the activity at issue is legal in the wilderness, what happens outside the wilderness should not be able to make it illegal.

In other words, you can harvest bait in the wilderness, but you can’t open a bait shop. You can trap in the wilderness, but you can’t run a mink ranch. You can take photos for commercial sale, but you can’t open a gallery on the Moose River portage.

As it stands today, the situation is ridiculous. You can pick blueberries in the wilderness, but if you sell a few quarts at a local farmers market, you’re suddenly subject to penalty. That’s absurd, and we don’t think that’s what Congress had in mind in 1964. And it shouldn’t be what the Forest Service enforces in 2017. It’s time to take another look. We think a little common sense is in order.

-----------------------------------------------------

Commercial use at issue in bait dealer raids

Federal rules sometimes contradictory

The harvest of ciscoes for bait has become the subject of controversy in Ely.
The harvest of ciscoes for bait has become the subject of controversy in Ely.
Posted Thursday, December 22, 2016 5:17 pm
Marshall Helmberger

ELY— What constitutes commercial use of a federal wilderness?

That is one of the complex issues raised by the recent raids on Ely bait dealers by federal law enforcement officers. While the raids themselves were done under the authority of a century-old law known as the Lacey Act, which was passed by Congress to protect wildlife from cross-border smuggling, they have reignited the long simmering debate over commercial use of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Federal officials allege that the individuals involved harvested ciscoes across the border in Canada. But regardless of any such cross-border incursions, which have yet to be proven, Forest Service officials say commercial harvest of ciscoes at Prairie Portage, located within the BWCAW, is not allowed under the federal Wilderness Act.

That’s been a sticking point for the past couple years, when the Forest Service first found out that the harvest, which has gone on for decades, was even happening. “We found out, because the DNR asked about storing nets at Prairie Portage,” said District Ranger Gus Smith, with the Superior’s Kawishiwi district. DNR officials were worried that the nets, which the bait harvesters were using in Basswood Lake, where spiny waterfleas are known to exist, could spread the invasive pest into other lakes on the return trip from Prairie Portage. The revelation prompted Forest Service officials to consider whether the bait harvest was allowed under the prohibition on most commercial activity within the wilderness. At the time, Superior Forest Supervisor Brenda Halter determined that the Forest Service was obligated by law to prohibit the harvest.

Yet, under pressure from Congressman Rick Nolan and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the Forest Service agreed to not enforce the rule through the end of 2015. This past summer, the two lawmakers asked for another exemption for this year’s harvest, which typically takes place in late October or early November, when the ciscoes come into the shallows to spawn.

“We told them they’ve been asking us to break the law,” said Smith “We asked them to consider not asking us to break the law anymore, or to work to change the law,” he added. “Without a change, I have no discretion here.”

Even so, it wasn’t the U.S. Forest Service that conducted the raid on bait shops in Ely earlier this month. It was federal law enforcement officials from the Fish and Wildlife Service, apparently working under the authority of the Lacey Act. Smith said he had no knowledge of the raid or of the four-year investigation that reportedly led to the enforcement action. But the incident once again raised the controversy over the ongoing cisco harvest.

Commercial use can be a fine line

While court rulings have generally sided with federal regulators on commercial uses in wilderness areas in the past, each case presents its own set of facts upon which any decision can hinge. A well-known case of a clash between the Wilderness Act and a commercial operation eventually led to the closure of the Drake Bay Oyster Company, a longstanding oyster harvesting operation and retail outlet located in the Point Reyes Wilderness in California.

In that instance, the Department of the Interior declined to renew a permit for the business, since operating an oyster harvesting business to supply a retail facility located within the wilderness boundary was prohibited activity. The shop and business closed doors in 2014 after a lengthy legal battle.

When it comes to cisco harvest at Prairie Portage, however, no Forest Service permit is required. The Boundary Waters Wilderness Act makes it clear that jurisdiction over fish and wildlife remains with the state Department of Natural Resources, which has issued licenses and permits to the individuals involved in the bait harvest at Prairie Portage. According to Sean Sisler, who oversees bait licensing and permitting for the DNR, those permits give the holders the right to harvest bait in any Minnesota water body that they can legally access.

In effect, acknowledges Smith, the harvest of ciscoes at Prairie Portage is perfectly legal. It’s the sale of those ciscoes to bait shops in Ely that turns a legal activity into a violation of the ban on commercial use of the wilderness.

Smith notes that there are obvious exceptions to the ban on commercial activity. Outfitters, guides, and towboat operators are allowed because the wilderness act grants an exception to commercial activity “to the extent necessary to serve recreation.”

Even so, the lines aren’t always clear. Earlier this year, Smith contended with complaints from a Fall Lake township supervisor who argued that anti-copper-nickel mining activists Dave and Amy Freeman were violating the commercial ban by posting pictures and reports of their year-long wilderness excursion online. Some of those photos and reports included images of outdoor gear that sponsors had donated, which some argued constituted advertising.

Smith had initially suggested the Freemans might have violated the ban, but later determined otherwise. “It’s fairly philosophical at times,” said Smith.

What makes the cisco case more challenging is that the commercial activity in question (the sale of the ciscoes to bait shops) takes place outside the wilderness.

In that sense, it’s virtually identical to trapping, which is an allowed activity within the Boundary Waters wilderness, according to Sue Duffy, wilderness and recreation program manager for the Superior National Forest. Virtually all trappers trap for the commercial fur market, so the pelts they obtain within the wilderness are being sold to fur dealers, just as the controversial ciscoes are sold to bait dealers. “It’s not an issue we’ve ever addressed,” acknowledged Duffy.

The tussle over ciscoes raises questions about all kinds of small-scale activities that could come under scrutiny if the Forest Service chooses to take a hard line. Pick a few gallons of blueberries in the Boundary Waters and you’re just fine. Sell a few quarts of your berries at a farmers market or to the local grocer and suddenly you’re an outlaw. Duffy acknowledges that would be consistent with the Forest Service’s current reading of the wilderness act.

As usual, the Forest Service is caught in the middle, taking flak from all sides in the wilderness debate, and that makes the agency particularly cautious as it approaches such issues. Smith notes that the agency is currently in a lawsuit filed by Wilderness Watch that seeks to end the use of towboats on the Moose Lake chain of lakes. “We have to be very careful with commercial activities right now,” Smith said, although he acknowledged that environmental groups have yet to weigh in on the issue. “Their silence makes me a little nervous,” said Smith.

At the same time, Smith said he recognizes that the impact of the cisco harvest on the wilderness, or wilderness values, is probably negligible. At that time of year, Prairie Portage is closed for the season and canoe traffic through the portage is rare to non-existent. And Prairie Portage is already an intrusion, of sorts, in the wilderness, with a truck portage, vehicles, and several buildings, including a Canadian Customs office. “In terms of a wilderness intrusion, it’s not a huge thing,” acknowledges Smith. “But the wilderness act doesn’t want us to look at those kind of tradeoffs.”

Nolan seeking

law change

Eighth District Congressman Rick Nolan’s office is currently working on a possible amendment to the Boundary Waters Wilderness Act, which would help to clarify the issue. “The draft legislation Mr. Nolan’s team has been working on would amend Section 14 (State Jurisdiction over Fish & Wildlife) of Public Law 95-495 as such: SEC. 14. Nothing in this Act shall be construed as affecting the jurisdiction or responsibilities of the State with respect to fish and wildlife including commercial bait harvest of cisco (Coregonus artedi), in the wilderness and the mining protection area.” That’s according to Nolan spokesperson Samantha Bisogno.

Nolan had hoped to reach accommodation for an administrative solution, said Bisogno, “however, after dialogue with bait industry stakeholders and the Forest Service (well before the federal raid) it appeared as though legislation to effectively codify the long-standing cisco harvest on the American side of Prairie Portage would be necessary.”

But Smith isn’t sure that the language, as currently proposed by the Congressman, resolves the issue. He said the Forest Service doesn’t dispute the right of the state to regulate fish and wildlife. It’s the commercial activity that creates the conflict with the wilderness act, he notes. Bisogno said Nolan’s legislative staff is still pursuing the issue and that final language remains a work in progress.

Why it matters

Cisco are found in plenty of lakes in northern Minnesota. So why is the Prairie Portage harvest such a big deal? It turns out, it’s because the site consistently hosts a large spawning run of a bait-sized cisco that is hard to find elsewhere in Minnesota. “We call them a kind of dwarf cisco,” said Edie Evarts, the DNR’s Tower area fisheries manager. She said most mature ciscoes, also known as tullibees, are much larger and are harvested for human consumption. Under state law, fish sold as bait can’t exceed seven inches in length, and ciscoes that small typically aren’t mature enough to gather for spawning, which is the only time that harvesters can expect to net large numbers of the fish.

And the ciscoes are popular bait, particularly for ice anglers, who use them for both lake trout and northern pike.

Jim Maki, whose Great Outdoors Bait Shop in Ely was one of those raided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers, said the ciscoes are particularly popular with lake trout anglers. “In the winter, they probably represent a majority of our business,” he said. “That’s been the case for 34-35 years,” he said.

Maki, who has helped with the cisco harvest in the past, says he’s familiar with where the harvest takes place. “It’s on the American side,” he insists. While some press reports suggest that the Fish and Wildlife Service has video of netting in Canadian waters in past years, Maki said he’d like to see proof the ciscoes he bought in 2016 were caught in Canada. “Otherwise, I want my fish back,” he said.

  • Thumbs Up 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great article Del. It just goes to show that there are many sides to such a complex issue. I'd love to hear the federal position about why netting and selling bait ciscoes is illegal while fur trapping and selling belts is not. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Builders

I wish still lived next to the TGO. Had the best of both worlds get bait and liquor and back to my house in less than 100 steps.

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The issue isn't about cicsos, it about who uses and how the BWCA is used.  Power was ceded to the federal government with the BWC Act in 1978.  Growing up as a young man in Ely I watched (in disagreement) as the preservationists took power.  Its seems the only thing to do is change our thinking and voting or get used to it.  I wonder what the next thing will be....

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, cartway said:

The issue isn't about cicsos, it about who uses and how the BWCA is used. 

 

Agreed.

 

Personally I wouldn't want to see any MORE regulation/limitations on using the B-dub, but not really any less either.  I love that place for what it is.  It's the closest place a person has a chance to really get away from it all.

 

I understand how Elyites can be bitter about losing the freedom to use it as they wish but it really wouldn't be the same place anymore if it wasn't controlled.  The place would be overrun with capitalism.

 

I'm not a treehugger; I like money too.  But we have a history developing and privatizing everything that is good in this world.  Preserving the B-dub actually did preserve all our freedom to enjoy it.  I'll be bummed if this ends Cisco sales but I'll just have to deal with it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is one of those things it is hard to decide what I think.  Towboats, trapping, netting, motors, truck portages, outfitters bogarding campsites, how to draw the line?

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, Wanderer said:

 

Agreed.

 

Personally I wouldn't want to see any MORE regulation/limitations on using the B-dub, but not really any less either.  I love that place for what it is.  It's the closest place a person has a chance to really get away from it all.

 

I understand how Elyites can be bitter about losing the freedom to use it as they wish but it really wouldn't be the same place anymore if it wasn't controlled.  The place would be overrun with capitalism.

 

I'm not a treehugger; I like money too.  But we have a history developing and privatizing everything that is good in this world.  Preserving the B-dub actually did preserve all our freedom to enjoy it.  I'll be bummed if this ends Cisco sales but I'll just have to deal with it.

 

No Vision Wanderer! ;)

 

Edited by leech~~
  • Thumbs Up 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great clip to address this issue.  The BWCA may be remote and undeveloped, but it can certainly be noisy  Many years ago we took a trip into Carp Lake on Labor Day weekend and it was like a parade going up there.  And aluminum canoes aren't very quiet.

  • Thumbs Up 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/2/2017 at 2:35 PM, SkunkedAgain said:

Great article Del. It just goes to show that there are many sides to such a complex issue. I'd love to hear the federal position about why netting and selling bait ciscoes is illegal while fur trapping and selling belts is not. 

 

As I understand it, they were illegal because they were illegally harvested in Canada and then brought into the U.S., which is against the Lacey Act, a federal law.  Furs trapped illegally in Canada and brought into the BW would likewise be illegal.  The Timberjay article seems to do an excellent job of confusing the Lacey Act (reason for the raid) with the Wilderness Act (reason for the recent actions of the Forest Service and elected officials).

Edited by EJ_Mac
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • knoppers
      ice fishing has begun in the backus area. I walked out about 20 feet, did not punch any holes, but it looked like 4 good solid inches. some lakes capped over thursday night, so be careful, as the ice thickness will not be the same all over. my lake had open water in middle of lake, but capped over thursday.
    • CigarGuy
      Problem with the west end is no plowed roads. Safest setup is my sled and portable. We've had so darn much slush the last few years, even that setup can be challenging at times.
    • papadarv
      Coon lake Anoka Co. 95% locked except for narrow strip from Lexinhyon drainage ditch toward flagpole point. Several 100 swans/geese keeping it open. The ice ridge 30 ft off shore next to broken lce will most likely pose early ice access issues.  1/2 dozen Youngins fishing the channel said ice was 3 to 3 1/2".   
    • monstermoose78
    • monstermoose78
      Google  little elk road east 
    • JerkinLips
      4'x6' would save a little bit of weight, but would reduce the surface area for floating on snow.  I have been thinking of making a 6'x8' to better accommodate the occasional guest.  I would put this close to a plowed road for easy access and removal at the end of the season.  Then use the 4'x8' for further out on the lake.   2x6 skids would give a little more clearance for the bottom over snow and water on top of the ice, and wouldn't add much weight.  I put electrical conduit on the bottom of my skids for wear strips and tracking.  This is the floor before insulation, sheathing underneath, and conduit.
    • smurfy
      Even the ice rods
    • smurfy
      Well I'm ready
    • Austin12345
      Does little elk one of those with multiple names I can't seem to find it on google maps. looking to get on some early ice tomorrow.
    • monstermoose78
      Went and checked little elk and Baxter 3-3.25 inches about 8 feet off shore. I did not go past that as I don’t want to fall in again. I need 5 inches to feel ok and it will be some time before gets there unless it gets cold soon. Let’s pray for no snow. 
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.