GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Michigan fish dealer has been sentenced to four months in prison for buying and selling lake trout from Lake Michigan that had been illegally taken by a tribal fisherman.
George Eugene Schrink pleaded guilty to the false labeling of fish, the Grand Rapids Press reported . He operates Walters Gold Coast Fisheries.
Schrink was caught in a three-year investigation conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency set up a covert business to buy and sell fish.
Schrink bought more than 4,600 pounds of illegally harvested fish during a three-month period in 2014, investigators said. He listed a licensed gill-net fisherman as the seller, instead of listing the tribal fisherman who was using trap nets, the government said.
The state began paying tribal fisherman up to $200,000 in 2000 to use trap nets to help rebuild the lake trout population. The nets allow for undersized fish to be released, unlike gill nets, which kill fish. Fishermen who accepted the offer weren’t allowed to keep lake trout.
U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney in Kalamazoo also ordered Schrink to pay more than $270,000 in restitution, which will cover the cost of raising more lake trout.
Over-harvesting and sea lampreys have caused the lake trout population to dip to a dangerously low level, government officials said. Lake Michigan’s trout population is mostly maintained by stocking.
Information from: The Grand Rapids Press:MLive.com, http://www.mlive.com