RED LAKE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians and the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs have signed a new five-year agreement that outlines how they will work together to maintain the health of the Upper and Lower Red lakes fishery.
The agreement was signed today during a brief ceremony in Red Lake.
The new memorandum of understanding closely parallels a 10-year agreement signed in April 1999 that helped restore high-quality walleye fishing to Minnesota's largest inland body of water. The agreement, among other things, states each entity will support the Red Lake Fisheries Technical Committee, a joint panel of experts that recommends policies and practices to maintain a healthy fishery.
"We've come a long way in the past decade," DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten said in a news release, noting that anglers have caught more than 1.1 million pounds of walleyes since the lake was reopened to fishing in 2006. "By renewing this agreement, we are reaffirming our commitment to a process that has delivered results."
Floyd Jourdain Jr., chairman of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, echoed that sentiment.
"Red Lake Band members are pleased that our walleye have come back and our fishing community is revitalized," Jourdain said. "We are committed to ensuring that Red Lake walleye are managed sustainably in the future. Renewing this agreement will enable the Fisheries Technical Committee to continue its work to help protect this valuable resource."
Historically, Upper and Lower Red lakes were outstanding walleye fisheries, but they collapsed in the mid-1990s after years of over harvest in both state and tribal waters. The Red Lake Fisheries Technical Committee was formed in 1998. Since then, the regulations, policies and other actions this joint body has recommended have led to a healthy walleye population and a resurgent walleye fishing economy.