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MADISON Wholesale fish dealer Susie Q Fish Co., Inc., and its President, licensed commercial fisherman Michael J. LeClair, have agreed to pay $27,500 to the State Conservation Fund to settle state claims brought under Wisconsin's conservation laws.


Wisconsin law sets annual harvest limits for commercial fisheries, including whitefish, and it allocates that harvest limit among commercial fishers by setting annual catch quotas for each licensed fisher. The State's complaint charged that Michael LeClair under-reported his whitefish catch, and that he caught more fish than were allowed by his quota. It charged that LeClair sold or transferred the over-quota fish to Susie Q, which possessed and sold them. The judgment resolves claims against both LeClair and Susie Q.


DNR Fishery Biologists determine the safe annual "Total Allowable Harvest" (quota) for each commercial species on Lake Michigan based on the scientific analysis of biological data including fish stock assessments, monitoring information, and the daily catch reports required of each commercial fisher. Conservation Wardens then closely monitor the commercial fishing industry to ensure compliance with individual harvest quotas and reporting requirements. The long term stability of Great Lakes fish stocks and the continued meeting of the DNR's legislative mandate to maintain a viable commercial fishery depend upon all commercial fishers complying with their individual quota allocations and accurately reporting their daily fishing activity to the DNR.


"Accurate record keeping is an essential regulatory requirement for assuring a sustainable resource and a level competitive playing field," Van Hollen said. "We cannot let commercial fishers exceed their harvest quota, and we cannot condone exceedances masked by under-reporting. DNR and DOJ take these violations seriously."


Wisconsin Assistant Attorneys General Diane Milligan and Mary Batt represented the State. The parties' settlement was approved by Manitowoc County Circuit Court Judge Darryl Deets.