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New law reduces penalties on fishing violations

Michigan state Representative John Damoose’s plan to ease penalties for violations of minor state fishing regulations was signed into law Wednesday.
Credit: John Hogan
A quiet stretch of the Rogue River near Rockford lures anglers looking for brown and rainbow trout.

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation was signed into law Wednesday by Governor Gretchen Whitmer that will reduce penalties for two minor fishing violations.

The bill was introduced by State Representative John Damoose of Harbor Springs and passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.

The new law, effectively immediately, will reclassify two fishing misdemeanors as civil infractions:

  • Failure to attach one’s name and address to an ice fishing tip-up.
  • Fishing with more lines than authorized.

Previously, the penalty for the misdemeanors were up to 90 days imprisonment and a $500 fine. With the new law, the civil infractions would only carry a maximum penalty of a $150 fine.

RELATED: Michigan DNR announces ice shanty removal dates

“The fish in Michigan’s rivers and lakes present world-class opportunities for all anglers,” said Damoose. “However, with some fishing law violations, the penalty is clearly harsher than necessary, threatening a criminal record and jail time for small errors. I’m a firm believer in the principle that the punishment should fit the crime. My plan will tackle these over-the-top penalties and ensure more reasonable enforcement of the law.”

The law comes at a time when the popularity of fishing in Michigan is as high as it has ever been due to the pandemic.

RELATED: Pandemic lures more people to fishing; Michigan license sales up 32%

Despite sales of licenses being down it recent years, they reached an all-time high in 2020.

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