Yet another crackdown on commercial fishing


For several Lake Erie commercial fishermen, this year could be their last one on the lake. State senators passed a bill last week that would allow the director of the Ohio Division of Wildlife to deny the fishermen the right to renew their licenses next year if they’ve ever been convicted of a fishing felony. But since a massive perch-poaching bust in 2005 that resulted in theft charges for many fishermen and wholesalers [“The Battle For Lake Erie,” September 6, 2006], that could wipe out more than half the industry. And it’s got commercial fishermen crying double-jeopardy. “You’re passing a new law to go back and punish a person who committed a crime,” says fisherman Dean Koch, who was never charged in the scandal. “It’s highly unconstitutional.” The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Tim Grendell of Chester Township, says there’s nothing illegal about the bill, because it doesn’t take away the fishermen’s current licenses, it just makes it impossible for them to get a new one. It’s no different than a law taking school-bus drivers with previous DUIs off the road, he says. “A couple of those guys from that [poaching] case are still having heartburn,” says Grendell. “You should be allowed to stay in business as long as you obey the rules.” But try telling an old fisherman that he has to go back to dry land. “When we settled our case last year, we paid restitution, we paid a fine. Our deal at that time was, ‘OK, we’re done,’” says Rich Stinson, owner of Port Clinton Fisheries. If this bill goes through, Stinson says, “everything you worked for is gone.” – Jared Klaus


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.