After attending a public forum on gill netting of lake trout in Flathead Lake, I have decided that the practice will pose a huge threat to the tourism economy for the Flathead. Just as everyone knows that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks destroyed the salmon fisheries; likewise they will know that the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes destroyed the lake trout fisheries. We presently have a world class fishery at Flathead Lake and many people make their living by providing fishing charters. We are very fortunate to have a lake where we can take our kids and grandkids and catch fish almost every time.
The Mack fishing derby has already had a detrimental impact on my ability to catch fish. The outfitters say that their average daily catch has decreased by 50 percent, from 10 to 5 fish. What a waste of money. Every person who pays an electric bill is paying for this effort to kill lake trout, which directly decreases their success to catch fish.
I also know that gill netting has a very significant detrimental impact on the quality of fish due to my experience in Alaska with salmon. We could not export gill net caught fish to Japan because of the quality. Are we wasting the fish or are they eaten by people who are unaware of their poor quality?
I am very opposed to idea of eradicating a game fish because it is not the one some people prefer. The majority opinion does not seem to matter. Only three or four people who attended the public forum favored the idea of eradicating lake trout, but the idea was being pushed even after it was stated that the population of bull trout was stable.
Sen. Verdell Jackson
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