2 charged for abandoned gill net

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Two Garden Peninsula men have each been charged with tribal civil violations in connection with gill nets found abandoned in Lake Michigan last fall, according to Sault Ste. Marie Tribal Court.

Troy Nester Jensen, 46, and Wade William Jensen, 48, are scheduled to appear in tribal court in Manistique on Feb. 14. Each is charged with three counts of gear restrictions, said Traci Swan, court administrator for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Sault Ste. Marie.

The Jensen brothers – both tribal commercial fishermen and members of the tribe – are charged in connection with the abandonment of approximately 10,000 feet of gill net in Lake Michigan, east of the Garden Peninsula.

The gill net was recovered by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commercial Fish Enforcement Unit on Oct. 18, 2013, and turned over to Sault Tribe Law Enforcement.

Since then, the tribal prosecutor filed civil charges against Troy Jensen and Wade Jensen.

The gill net was located by the DNR after sport anglers complained of getting their fishing gear caught on what they believed to be a net. The first complaints were voiced to tribal and DNR officers in mid-August 2013.

After several attempts to locate the net, coordinates were obtained on its location and it was recovered about four miles east of Point Detour on the Garden Peninsula. Tribal police identified those responsible for leaving the net unattended and the civil charges were filed against Troy Jensen and Wade Jensen.

In September 2011, Wade Jensen had pleaded guilty to similar violations. He was charged with two tribal civil citations relating to abandoned gill nets in Lake Michigan and paid a $300 fine.

At the time of his plea, he was serving a sentence in Delta County Jail for unlawfully conspiring to buy and sell fish.

In May 2011, a Delta County District Court jury found Troy Jensen and Wade Jensen, along with non-native John Elmer Halverson of Garden, each guilty of the misdemeanor of unlawfully conspiring to buy and sell fish taken without a commercial fishing license in February 2009.

In addition to a one-year jail sentence, each was ordered to pay $3,628 in fines and costs. The three were also ordered to pay joint restitution of $19,773 – the amount of money the Jensens received for the illegal sale of fish in February 2009.