Carp seine 1

Jeff Anderson of the Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District nets some carp for last month’s haul. According to the district, about 5,500 pounds of carp was seined from Prior Lake in April.

Commercial fishers can fish for more carp in local lakes, helping water quality and their bottom lines, under a bill that passed the state Legislature and received the governor’s signature this year.

State Rep. Tony Albright and Sen. Eric Pratt, both Republicans representing the Prior Lake area, pushed for the bill and said it essentially removes commercial monopolies on carp fishing in lakes like Prior Lake.

The law allows commercial fishers to seine-fish carp from any inland commercial fishing area regardless of whether they’re assigned to the area. Inland commercial fishers previously were issued licenses to fish only in specific areas.

The change could help battle the invasive species by letting more fishing operations join the fight, said Mike Myser, president of the Prior Lake Spring Lake Watershed District, in an open letter thanking the legislators for their work.

“We have been hampered in our efforts to rid our lakes of this invasive beast. We will be able to get our lakes off the impaired list faster now,” Myser wrote.

“Our native aquatic plants will come back,” he added, saying the change will benefit everyone who boats, swims and fishes. “Cleaner, safer water will result. You have made a difference.”

Pratt in a video statement said he got the idea from the watershed district and the monopoly system wasn’t the right way to approach the issue.

“The watershed district wants to be able to go out and find their own community fishermen to come in and take care of these carp,” he said.

The resources department considers Prior Lake impaired because of issues with its water quality that stem in part from the fish’s presence, Myser said.

“They stir up the bottom of a lake, where phosphorous has settled. Because of the sheer quantity of carp, it negatively impacts water quality,” he said.

A carp seine in April yielded 5,500 pounds of the fish, but that number is just a fraction of what’s in the water.

At an April board meeting, Maggie Karschnia, water resources project manager for the watershed district, said about 60,000 more pounds of the fish need to be removed from Upper Prior Lake and Spring Lake before water quality goals are met.

“What we’ve found in this seine event is that carp are really traveling between water bodies, which makes things harder,” Karschnia said.

Albright said he looked at the proposal from a business perspective as well.

“What the legislation does is it allows for smaller fishing entities, commercial or otherwise, to have the opportunity to bid for those projects,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for small businesses to grow.”

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