WE NEED YOUR HELP!

January 7, 2021

 

Dear Friend,

Michigan’s local, family-owned businesses face many challenges in their daily survival, but none so frustrating as actions of state government leaders.

 

By implementing an unsustainable ruling on fishing depths, the state’s 13 commercial fishing operations, including ours, Governor Whitmer’s administration effectively is shuttering Michigan’s small commercial fishing businesses that are a main provider of locally-sourced Great Lakes whitefish. Whitefish, as you know, are part of Pure Michigan.  

 

The Administration essentially is ending our longstanding Michigan industry, along with the jobs and livelihoods of those employed by our companies.

 

This comes at one of the most difficult times in our life, as Michigan’s small businesses and local jobs continue to be hammered by the impact of the pandemic.

 

I’m writing to you today because our family business needs your help. Here’s what’s at stake.  

 

The VanLandschoot family fishing business is just one of the 13 small commercial fisheries that is in danger.  We are not about to go down without fighting for our employees, the many restauranteurs, visitors and local residents that come to VanLandschoot for the freshest local fish, our customer-oriented business and its legacy.  

 

Launched 108 years ago in 1914 by my grandfather Philip VanLandschoot, VanLandschoot & Sons Fish Market now is a fifth-generation family-run business. The little town of Munising, on the shores of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, has been home to our family fish market all these years.  

We’ve raised our families here. We’ve put our kids to work in the family business to learn and earn. Over years, we’ve employed hundreds of local residents who’ve relied on their jobs with us to provide for their own families.  

 

VanLandschoot fishes the waters of Lake Superior for our whitefish. We’re caretakers of the lake and the fishery. We respect the waters, environment, and sustainable fishing methods.

 

Our family continues to promote the UP’s natural beauty and support community needs and events. For example, my cousin Paul recently delivered on behalf of our family and business a $5,000 contribution to the Alger Regional Community Foundation in support of student scholarships. An additional contribution of $5,000 was made to the local Roam Community Foundation in support of music, art, culture and adventure in the local area.

 

However, our story and our business are about to come to an end, not out of choice, but because the Whitmer Administration and Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger have decided we are expendable.

 

WE NEED YOUR HELP. Michigan’s commercial fishing industry is at a critical tipping point. We are asking for your support as we face this challenge.

 

The Whitmer DNR is imposing fishing limitations that restrict commercial fishers to only 80 feet below the surface (for years it’s been 150 feet), essentially where whitefish (the only species we currently are licensed to catch) do not populate and effectively putting VanLandschoot out of the fishing business altogether.

The Michigan Fish Producers Association this week filed a lawsuit against the DNR to protect our employees and businesses. We wanted to avoid court, but it became necessary when the DNR refused all of last year to work with us in any way. Additionally, the DNR was unwilling to work with Sen. Ed McBroom, the chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, to work through recommendations he made to bills that would have resolved concerns last year – enabling us to avoid the lawsuit.

 

Why are Governor Whitmer and Director Eichinger doing this?

 

Pure and simple: retaliation to our lack of support for her DNR’s legislation (House Bills 4567, 4568 and 4569).

 

We could not support a package of DNR bills moving through the state legislature that contained requirements our small businesses could not meet. 

 

Worse, the DNR gave lip service to our 13-member commercial Michigan Fishing Producers Association during a months-long work group. Workgroup chair Sen. Ed McBroom developed an encompassing report of recommendations based on input during the workgroup, but DNR Director Eichinger refused to support even one of the one-hundred suggestions that could have made the Administration’s bills feasible. They offered no reason for their refusal and they offered no alternatives or solutions. 

 

Our public trust – the resources held in trust by the state for the benefit of the public – is being threatened.

 

What’s the solution?

 

To survive, we need to be able to fish for whitefish in deeper waters, as we normally have, or be licensed to catch more than just whitefish. We also need the DNR to agree to use data-driven quotas, and we need equal access to our Great Lakes resources.

Bottom line: we need the DNR to work with us on a compromise that keeps us and our supply chain, in business.

 

A viable Michigan commercial industry offers a local, healthy and sustainable product made available through local grocery stores, restaurants and our retail markets.

We need and ask for your assistance.  Please write a letter or email today to support our generations old family Michigan fishing business and our employees and oppose the Whitmer Administration’s shuttering of our businesses and way of life.

 

Please take just a few minutes today to write a simple, brief email in support of my family’s business and that of 12 other Michigan fishers like us. You may address your email to EichingerD@michigan.gov to:

                Director Dan Eichinger

                Michigan Department of Natural Resources

                525 W. Allegan

                PO Box 30028

                Lansing, MI 48909           

You may also use the sample email / letter below as written or with your own comments added. Send me a copy, if you would please, at vsifish@gmail.com.

 

Key points to make:

  • Urge the DNR to postpone implementation of new regulation (January 8).

  • Shutting down Michigan’s small commercial fishing industry is unfair and unjust and it will kill local jobs at the worst possible time.

  • Support Michigan sourced fish as a food source and tourist favorite. 

  • Support local family-owned businesses that give back to our communities and take care of our natural resources.

  • Support family-owned multi-generation businesses.

  • Oppose heavy-handed government overreach that blatantly disregards the equity of needs of Michigan citizens and local businesses

  • Urge the DNR to work with Sen. McBroom and the industry association to find common ground on recommendations made in Sen. McBroom’s report that will enable the survival of Michigan’s small commercial fishing businesses.

Sample Email

 

Dear Director Eichinger:

 

We strongly support Michigan’s commercial fishing businesses and their continued operation.

 

We support Michigan’s small and largely family-owned commercial fishing operations.

They provide fresh, locally sourced Great Lakes whitefish – a Michigan favorite – at Michigan restaurants and local markets. They provide jobs and livelihoods for many local residents, pay taxes to support local and state public needs, and support community causes and needs. 

 

VanLandschoot & Sons Fish Market, for whom we write in support of today, was founded more than 108 years ago as a U.P. family business; today, it’s a fifth-generation business with a long, proud history.   They’ve endured all these years fishing the waters of Lake Superior and being good stewards of the resource, environment, and communities of the U.P.

 

As Michigan emerges from the impacts of the pandemic this year, local small businesses and the jobs they support are more important than ever. Our state and its citizens need job providers of all sizes and types to be in operation.

 

Shutting down VanLandschoot and the 12 other commercial fish operations suddenly, without warning nor compensation, at this time and without any basis, is the wrong thing to do and will mean job and small business loss at the worst possible time. It also means the loss of a Pure Michigan whitefish tradition.

 

We urge the Whitmer Administration and DNR Director Dan Echinger to work together, immediately, with the commercial fishing industry and Sen. Ed McBroom and the legislature to resolve the issues to protect local jobs, Michigan small business and way of life, and the cultural heritage which makes up the Great Lakes.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

SIGNATURE

My family appreciates your friendship and support. We look forward to your interest and questions and stand ready to assist. Please contact me at 906.360.9909 or vsifish@gmail.com.

 

Thank you and best wishes from the entire VanLandschoot family to you and yours for a Happy New Year.

 

Sincerely,

Dennis VanLandschoot

President & Chairman of the Board

VanLandschoot & Sons Fish Market

1338 Commercial St
Munising, MI 49862
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