Cravaack will introduce Mille Lacs Lake Freedom to Fish Act

Eighth District U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack (MN) on Saturday at Nitti’s Hunters Point Resort on Mille Lacs Lake, announced he will introduce The Mille Lacs Lake Freedom to Fish Act.

Specifically, this legislation regards Minnesota’s state sovereignty, job creation, cutting federal red tape, and strengthening Minnesota’s outdoor fishing tradition.

Citing a 30-year old analysis, the U.S. Coast Guard has assumed federal authority over certain activities on Mille Lacs Lake.  Currently, the U.S. Coast Guard is forcing all fishing guides, mostly college students, to spend time and money to obtain a federal boating license to bring fishermen out on Mille Lacs Lake.  This license and associated costs put fishing guides on the hook for over $2,000.

“This new Coast Guard regulation, being funded at taxpayer expense, is taking a toll on the Mille Lacs Lake resort-based economy and is making fishing more expensive.  I plan to introduce legislation next week that will remove this over-regulation and keep Mille Lacs Lake under Minnesota control,” said Rep. Cravaack.  “I appreciate all the Coast Guard does, but the DNR already patrols Mille Lacs Lake.  The Coast Guard’s authority over the lake is an intrusion; it’s redundant, excessive, and duplicative.”

In March 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard ruled that Mille Lacs Lake was a federally navigable body of water, based on historical interstate commerce.  Specifically, the Coast Guard justified its overreach by using a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ruling, which maintains that because fur traders and lumberjacks utilized the Lake and the Rum River in the 1700s and 1800s, the lake is deemed a federally navigable water body.

The Rum River is currently dammed at Anoka, and the last log floated on the Lake was in 1904.

“The bottom line is the cost the federal government is imposing on obtaining the TWIC license for maritime workers and the six-pack certification for captains.  Less control from the federal government on Mille Lacs Lake is a good thing.  By federalizing the licensing process, jobs are being taken away.  Although I have a Masters License, at my age I’m doubtful I could obtain the licensing due to the cost of the coursework,” said George Nitti, Owner of Nitti’s Hunters Point Resort.

Rep. Cravaack added, “The state has rules and inspection procedures in place to keep its residents safe and is perfectly capable of enforcing boating laws.  Ultimately, Mille Lacs Lake belongs to Minnesotans and should not be controlled by federal government bureaucrats.  My legislation will stop fishing guides from being forced to spend over $2000 to obtain a license they don’t need and end the Coast Guard’s intrusive overreach into Minnesota’s great fishing tradition.”

Rep. Cravaack serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee – where he is vice chair of the Aviation Subcommittee – the Homeland Security Committee, and the Science, Space and Technology Committee. The 8th Congressional District covers 18 counties in Northeast Minnesota.