Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Cavitt slams federal effort to end sturgeon fishing
RELEASE|February 28, 2024
Contact: Cam Cavitt

State Rep. Cam Cavitt, R-Cheboygan, released a statement today denouncing efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) to list lake sturgeon as an endangered species. The move would prohibit anyone from harvesting a sturgeon nationwide, effectively ending all forms of sturgeon fishing, including spearfishing on Black Lake in Cheboygan County.

“This move by the feds is effectively spitting in the faces of all the sportsmen and wildlife experts that have been working diligently to preserve sturgeon populations and fishing seasons for decades,” Cavitt said. “Sturgeon fishing is a cultural staple in Northeast Michigan that the Black Lake community hosts an annual festival in conjunction with the season.”

Black Lake is one of two places in the U.S. where spearfishing lake sturgeon is permitted. The only other is in Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin. The Blake Lake sturgeon season is already heavily regulated by the DNR. The DNR determine the total number of sturgeons that may be harvested each year. Once the limit is met, all sturgeon fishing stops. While the 2024 season was cancelled due to safety concerns stemming from lack of ice on the lake, the 2023 season lasted only 65 minutes, and the 2022 season only lasted 36 minutes.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has been actively working to preserve sturgeon populations for over 20 years. Since 2003, 33,416 juvenile lake sturgeon have been stocked into the Cheboygan River drainage via the Black Lake sturgeon facility. School kids across Michigan take part in building the sturgeon population by teaming with the DNR to raise sturgeon in the classroom. When they reach a certain age, those fish are released into the wild.

“The DNR is doing all it can to preserve lake sturgeon populations in Michigan,” Cavitt said. “Folks across the country recognize how important lake sturgeon are to the well-being of freshwater ecosystems. Instead of working with these talented individuals to ensure fishing can continue alongside population preservation, the FWS would rather impose a blanket ban on everyone.”

The potential endangered species listing stems from a 2018 petition filed by the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity. The FWS will announce its decision on June 30. Even if the FWS decides to list lake sturgeon as an endangered species, the decision would open a year-long public comment period.

“The Michigan DNR has world-class fisheries and biologists,” Cavitt said. “We have little interest in the feds allowing radical environmentalists to politicize Michigan’s natural resources.”


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