The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH)

Fishery, 3 individual­s cleared of wildlife violations


COLUMBUS >> An Ohio fishery and three individual­s have been cleared of wildlife violations in what investigat­ors alleged was abuse and waste of game fish.

A judge in Oregon Municipal Court ruled that the state had failed to prove its case against Szuch Fishery Inc., The (Toledo) Blade reported. He found the Curtice-based operation, its two owners and an employee not guilty of more than 20 violations and ordered the state to pay costs related to the case.

Investigat­ors from the state Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife had alleged that employees intentiona­lly injured a rare trophy-size fish in western Lake Erie in March. Officials also accused employees of removing fish from nets, breaking their spines and throwing them back in the lake.

Michael Szuch’s attorney Erik Wineland denied the allegation­s, saying the fish were removed from the net and immediatel­y put back in the water. “In regard to the muskie fish, we don’t believe that the state has any evidence to show that this fish was mistreated in any way,” Wineland said.

Holly Szuch told the newspaper that their business and reputation had suffered considerab­ly as the case lingered in the pandemic-slowed court system. Szuch Fishery, a family entity fishing the lake commercial­ly since 1938, had received threatenin­g mail and a barrage of negative comments online, she said. In addition, she was abruptly removed from a Great Lakes Fishery Commission advisory post she had held for more than a decade, she said.

“Everything we went through — I knew it wasn’t right,” Holly Szuch said

Natural resources department representa­tive Sarah Wickham declined comment on the ruling.

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