Earlier this week, agents for Michigan’s Wildlife Resources Protection Unit went undercover, responding to a posting on Craigslist from a Grand Rapids man who was selling 14 of the bottom-dwellers.
According to the state’s Dept. of Natural Resources, if you want to sell game fish in Michigan, a fisherman needs a commercial fishing license. Violations of state laws are punishable by up to 90 days behind bars and fines between $250 and $1,000.
A rep for the DNR tells MLive.com that it’s not just about protecting commercial fisherman and keeping unlicensed fisherman from profiting. It’s also about protecting the consumer.
There are signs on the Kalamazoo River, from which the man snared these fish, has signs on its public access points warning fishermen to not eat catfish or other bottom-feeding creatures because a 2010 oil spill — along with industrial activity along the river — may have put pollutants in the riverbed that make these fish unsafe for consumption.
“Due to the contaminants in that river, it’s highly recommended that people don’t eat those fish,” says the DNR rep. “If you buy fish under the table, there’s no recourse if something happens. You have no idea how it’s taken care of or where it came from.”