For 14 months the Up North Fish Shop bought and sold fish from local fisherman in L’Anse, Michigan. What people didn’t know until recently is the shop was part of a federal investigation into illegal fishing in the upper Great Lakes.
In a federal search warrant unsealed in court in Marquette, the operation was part of a two year investigation into illegal fishing in Northern Michigan and Northeastern Wisconsin. The fish shop in L’Anse on US highway 41 was set up by the US Department of Fish and Wildlife Management. The operation designed to catch people selling illegally caught fish reported 400 transactions.
The fish being caught illegally included trout, walleye and sturgeon. The US Department of Fish and Wildlife Management says that trout populations in the Great Lakes are very low due to overfishing and lamprey eel infestations.
So far, Michigan and Wisconsin businesses that have been affected by the federal investigation includes Peterson’s Fish Market in Hancock, Beaver Island Fresh Fish Market, and in the Lower Peninsula John Cross Fish Market in Charlevoix. A fish distributer in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin was also raided.
The Justice Department issued a statement on November 5, 2014:
On Nov. 5, 2014 , U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service agents executed search warrants at various locations in Northern Michigan and Northeastern Wisconsin holding wholesaler records of fish taken from lakes Michigan and Superior. The searches are pursuant to an investigation into potential violations of the Lacey Act.
U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr. – the chief federal prosecutor for the Western District of Michigan including the Upper Peninsula – and representatives of the Justice Department Environment and Natural Resources Division are communicating with state, tribal and fed. law enforcement representatives and look forward to working with them as partners in maintaining and safeguarding a healthy fishery.
Given the ongoing nature of the investigation, no further comment will be offered at this time.
The investigation is ongoing and designed to stop the illegal commercial sale of Great Lakes fish.