Regulation Negotiation Role-Play: Lake Wasota Fishing Rights

TitleRegulation Negotiation Role-Play: Lake Wasota Fishing Rights
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication1985
AuthorsMadigan, D, Loofbourrow, T, Babbitt, E, Susskind, L

Six-party, six-issue, scoreable negotiation among representatives of tribal, state, federal, recreation, and business interests over fishing rights in a large lake

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Lake Wasota is one of the largest and most beautiful lakes in the country. Over the last twenty years, it has been the site of a bitter dispute over fishing rights. The dispute revolves around the Chippewa Indians (who were granted an unlimited right to fish by a treaty) and commercial fishermen. The conflict was exacerbated by the commercial fishermen’s use of new trap net technology, which has increased their catch substantially. To make matters worse, sports fishers began to fish in the lake in record numbers. Although the competition between the commercial fishermen and the Indians concerns millfish, sports fishermen are involved because trap netting also catches blue trout. The state interceded in the dispute by initiating a series of licensing regulations. The Indians, together with the U.S. Government, then sued the State of Wasota. The court, with assistance of a Special Master, brought the parties together to negotiate a temporary settlement in the shadow of an imminent court ruling on fishing rights in the lake. The parties, including the Wendana Bay Indian Tribe, the Momata Falls Indian Band, the U.S. Government, the State Natural Resources Authority, the Commercial Fishermen’s Association, and the Recreation and Conservation Association are now gathering to review the original agreement and determine whether it should be ratified for another ten years. The parties must reach a decision before the original agreement expires. Although the court hopes for a total consensus, it will accept an agreement reached between the four principal parties. If such an agreement is not reached, the court will make the final decision.