Although commercial fisherman Thomas Battice has been sent to prison, his trap nets in Lake Michigan can’t just be pulled out by anyone who wants them out.
The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, which licensed Battice, did what it could to start the process for removing Battice’s nets this week, though, and said in a press release Friday that the nets would eventually be retrieved.
Cpl. Steve Huff, a commercial fish specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resource Protection Section, joined Little River Band of Ottawa Indians conservation officers aboard the tribe’s 32-foot Safeboat on Friday afternoon to mark Battice’s nets as unattended, part of the process that would let the tribe eventually remove the nets.
Huff said the process for having nets retrieved is governed by a federal court order so it is important that it be followed to the letter. Huff said the first step in the process, which he joined LRBOI officers for on Friday, is to mark nets as unattended. Once they are tagged as unattended, they can be removed after a certain period of time.
Huff said Battice’s nets are not in disrepair and, being trap nets instead of gill nets, they won’t collect and kill fish as long as they are maintained.
“Right now, they’re not in violation,” Huff said.
Once the nets are tagged as unattended for four days, then the tribe can start to take action, Huff said.
“After they meet the definition of ‘abandoned,’ according to the (Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority) code, they can be pulled,” Huff said.
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