MN-FISH Hosts First State of Minnesota Fishing Summit

MN-FISH logoHave you heard of the MN-FISH Sportfishing Foundation?  If not, you will.  This past week, they hosted their first annual State of Minnesota Fishing Summit.  Held at Clam Outdoors in Rogers, MN, the event brought together various stakeholders from the fishing industry and those who affect the fishing industry including the MN DNR, Explore Minnesota and the Governor’s office.  Governor Tim Walz actually attended the event and spoke to the group about fishing in Minnesota.

MN-FISH is Minnesota’s only nonprofit organization formed as two entities in order to represent the fishing interests of all Anglers, Clubs, Local Organizations and Industry Stakeholders. Their intent is to give you the opportunity to have a strong voice and be heard at our State Capital, where it matters most!  With that being said, the group of people pulled together was impressive.  In addition to most of the MN-FISH Board of Directors, who are a list of well known people in the fishing industry, Governor Walz, Commissioner Steve Grove, the Commissioner of the MN DNR, Sarah Strommen, the Director of Explore Minnesota, Lauren Bennett McGinty, and many DNR department heads and managers.

Whenever a group like this gets together to discuss fishing in Minnesota, it is a good thing.

MN-FISH, Walz, Schara

Governor Tim Walz and Ron Schara discuss fishing in Minnesota.

Ron Schara is President of the MN-FISH organization and set the stage for the meeting.  In a nutshell, the organization has two initiatives currently.  The first is to create more boat ramps adding to accessibility to fishing in Minnesota.  The second is to upgrade the deteriorating infrastructure of hatcheries in the State of Minnesota and ultimately do more stocking in Minnesota.

As much as it is good to discuss fishing in Minnesota, not everyone agrees what that looks like.  The MN-FISH group is advocating that much more stocking of lakes needs to be done which will really improve the quality of the fishing experience in Minnesota.

Many of the fish questions of the group were taken by Brad Parsons, MN DNR Fisheries Chief.  Parsons was good about answering questions, even though his answers weren’t always what many in the MN-FISH group agreed with.  Parsons spoke of stocking opportunities and discussed how in some circumstances, it makes good sense.  He also spoke, from a science based approach, how in many cases, it does not make sense and there are other ways to achieve quality fishing.

There were a couple of points that stood out.  The fish hatcheries in Minnesota have been, in a nutshell, neglected.  They are aging, lacking in technology and in need of improvements.

MN DNR Commissioner, Sarah Stommen, Commissioner Steve Grove and Explore MN Tourism Director Lauren Bennett McGinty

MN DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen, DEED Commissioner Steve Grove and Explore MN Tourism Director Lauren Bennett McGinty discuss the importance of fishing to the State of Minnesota

The other point is how the State of Minnesota has allocated no money for years towards these efforts.  Governor Walz addressed this, commenting that he and his staff put together a budget each year but ultimately, it is the state legislature who determines what the money is spent on.  He made the comment sometimes our budget appears to be used as a tire stop more than anything.

Walz spoke of the importance of fishing in Minnesota and how he supports many of the efforts the MN-FISH group is advocating for.  Is this political jargon or is it real?  Even if Governor Walz does support it, will it have movement in the legislature?  Time will tell, but the support sure seemed authentic.

There are two different parts to MN-FISH.   The MN-FISH Coalition, LLC is a 501c4 grassroots sportfishing, marine and angler advocacy network that gives anglers a legislative voice and works to achieve public policies.   The group has hired lobbyists who work at the State Capitol looking to educate and ultimately impose upon the legislators the importance of fishing and ultimately supporting a couple of bills that would provide money to move along their efforts in Minnesota.

The MN-FISH Sportfishing Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization designed to inspire Minnesotans to restore, protect and enhance sportfishing for the present and future generations to enjoy.  This is the part of the organization the public sees most often.

MN-FISH MISSION

  • Provide a strong voice for Minnesota anglers and fishing related businesses before the State Legislature and DNR regarding all things fishing.
  • Advocate, protect and restore aquatic fish & spawning habitat in lakes, rivers and streams.
  • Seek greater reinvestment back into sport fishing, representing a portion of the estimated $271 million in annual state taxes derived from Minnesota’s $4.2 billion fishing and marine industry.
  • Support scientific and common-sense fish management for all gamefish species, and review DNR fish stocking policies and fish management programs to maximize anglers’ success.
  • Advocate and promote youth fishing recruitment and fishing programs in school curriculums to sustain the next generation of anglers.
  • Become a grassroots sport fishing, marine and angler advocacy network to give anglers a voice in all fishing related issues.
  • Advocate and seek funding for new investment in fish hatcheries, public accesses, fishing piers and shore fishing facilities.

MN-FISH offers memberships for those who want to be part of the group.

Having accessibility to fishing is important.  Enjoying quality fishing is also part of the formula.  The MN-FISH group is working hard to create both for those who like to fish Minnesota waters.  This group is just getting started and expect to hear more from them, and about them, as the year progresses.

 

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