Fisheries

Remnant fish species discovered in Antrim County

Jan 2, 2017
Photo Credit: MDNR

Researchers have discovered a very special population of fish lurking in the depths of Elk Lake in Antrim County. These fish share a unique heritage, linking them to the native lake trout that disappeared from Lake Michigan over 50 years ago.

Peter Payette

Scientists have been worried about the lake herring population in Lake Superior recently. In fact, last year they warned it could be headed towards a collapse.

Lake Superior is the only Great Lake that still has a significant population of herring - or cisco as they're commonly called.

This fall, new rules protecting herring took effect in Wisconsin and Minnesota and things appear more stable. But there may still be a big problem lying beneath the surface.

Michigan Radio

Fisheries managers in Michigan are enlisting fishermen in the fight against Asian carp infestation. The state Department of Natural Resources is asking anglers to inspect their live bait for juvenile Asian carp.

The small fish look very similar to minnows and other common types of bait but their eyes are set lower on their bodies. DNR Resources Manager Nick Popoff says their eyes are “sub-terminal.”

U.S. Geological Survey / http://www.usgs.gov/themes/factsheet/146-00/

Mercury levels are staying the same or increasing in the Great Lakes.

The state has just released new guidelines for safely eating Great Lakes fish. Despite the bad news about mercury, there is some good news in the report. There is evidence contamination is decreasing overall in Lake Michigan. It’s now safer to eater larger fish caught in the lake.

That’s largely because fish are less contaminated with PCBs and dioxin, two chemicals no longer in use. 

There’s a new report card of sorts out on fish sold commercially from the Great Lakes.

It’s from Seafood Watch. That’s a program at Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.

Stefan Tucker made a head-turning discovery when doing research for his senior undergrad thesis in the St. Mary’s River. Instead of finding the sturgeon he was looking for he found wild Atlantic salmon. Previously, the species was believed not to be reproducing in the upper Great Lakes. Tucker explained to us just what this discovery means and what questions it has now raised about the salmon’s presence in the Great Lakes.

Boardman River Dams and Restoration Project

A group charged with removing hydroelectric dams along the Boardman River says it passed the halfway point in fundraising for the removal of a second dam.

Brown Bridge Dam has already been removed and leaders with the Boardman River Dams and Restoration Project say they are on track to have Boardman Dam down by the end of next year. That’s the dam that crosses Cass Street south of South Airport Road.

This week the group announced it’s raised an additional million dollars, bringing the total raised so far for Phase II to $5.7 million.

In early July, state officials approved a significant expansion of a northern Michigan commercial fish hatchery’s operations after requiring additional measures to protect the cherished Au Sable River. It got us wondering: how important are fish hatcheries in the Great Lakes State and what is their role?

Gary Whelan joined us today. He is with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources where he's a Research Program Manager.

Whelan said the first hatcheries began in the early 1870’s. Even back then, fishery resources were in decline. The habitat loss was frightening. Fish were difficult to find, and commercial fishermen weren’t doing very well. One of the responses was to build fish hatcheries.

Today, there are six state hatcheries and three federal hatcheries in Michigan.

Whelan pointed out that fish hatcheries can help bring the lakes into balance.

“Using salmons in water where we have way too many prey species can make it into a balanced system that functions properly, ” Whelan said.

* Listen to our conversation with Whelan above.

Northern Ontario Aquaculture Associaton

Michigan took a big step forward in the business of fish farming this week. The state issued a permit allowing the Grayling Fish Hatchery to expand more than ten fold. It will be the largest fish hatchery in the state by far when it ramps up production. The hatchery raises trout for restaurants and grocery stores.

The expansion comes as interest in fish farming is growing nationwide. There is even talk of developing the aquaculture industry offshore in the open waters of the Great Lakes, something that has only been done in Canadian waters.

Illinois became the first state in the union to ban microbeads, the tiny bits of plastic found in consumer products like skin exfoliants and soap.

As NPR's Cheryl Corley reports, environmentalists say that when microbeads wash down the drain, they're usually missed by filtration systems, which means they become food to fish and other wildlife.

Cheryl filed this report for our Newscast unit:

Michigan Sea Grant

Grand Traverse Bay has been named one of the best bass fishing spots in the U.S. by Bassmaster.

Bass are doing well in many parts of Lake Michigan with the help of an invasive species from Europe. Round goby has quickly become one of the most common feeder fish in the lake.

Dave Clapp manages the state’s research station in Charlevoix and says goby are thick in the rocky areas where small mouth bass tend to congregate.

From the shoreline at North Avenue Beach in Chicago, the blue water of Lake Michigan stretches as far as the eye can see. But beneath that pristine image, there's a barely visible threat, says Jennifer Caddick of the Alliance for the Great Lakes: microbeads.

These tiny bits of plastic, small scrubbing components used in hundreds of personal care products like skin exfoliants and soap, can slip through most water treatment systems when they wash down the drain.

Bob Allen

Years after a 2008 dam failure caused a major fish kill along a Blue Ribbon trout stream near Vanderbilt, the dam will be removed. The state has settled its lawsuit with the property owner, Golden Lotus. The group runs a yoga retreat called Song of the Morning Ranch, along the Pigeon River.

Golden Lotus has agreed to remove the dam, which will also remove a pond on the property and restoring a cold-water river habitat for fish.

Fisheries Specialist David Borgeson, with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, says the draw down of the pond will begin this spring.

 

The prolonged winter and the ice cover on the Great Lakes could lead to some lasting effects on wildlife.

For one thing, scientists expect that a lot of the fish that people like to catch will be showing up late to the places they usually spawn.

Solomon David is a research scientist at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

David basically chases fish around for a living.

A treatment that kills zebra and quagga mussels could soon be available for use in lakes and rivers. It’s very effective and safe.

But it is not likely to undo much of the ecological damage done to Michigan waters by invasive mussels.

It could be good news, though, if you’re a clam.

A Canadian court has slammed a trucking company and one of its drivers with a combined $75,000 fine for trying to haul live Asian carp across the U.S.-Canadian border.

Driver Yong-Sheng Zhang is with the Edmonton, Alberta-based Alltheway Trucking Inc.

Twice in early 2012, Zhang crossed the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, with a truckload of fish from Arkansas. The fish were packed in ice, and included two species of Asian carp.

Jason L. Jenkins / University of Missouri

A new report says a permanent solution to the Asian carp threat to the Great Lakes could take years to build and cost billions of dollars.

The report says it’s very possible for the invasive species to slip from the Mississippi River system into the Great Lakes. And that it’s possible for the species to live in the lakes and grow in population.

The report was prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Congress.

Tiny plastic beads used in some cosmetics and toothpaste are making their way into the bellies of fish in the Great Lakes, and it's raising concern among environmentalists. Dr. Sherri Mason, a chemistry professor at the State University of New York at Fredonia, has been researching the issue, and she joins Audie Cornish to explain what this means for the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Anglers of the Au Sable

A controversial method of drilling for oil and gas could be coming to the Au Sable River, and to the most revered part of the watershed for anglers.

Leases to drill for oil and gas minerals under state land east of Grayling were sold to Encana at an October auction. The land in question is along the stretch of river called the Holy Waters and known for its trout fishing. The energy company has fracked deep shale wells in Kalkaska County and other parts of northern Michigan.

EPA.gov

Researchers have found evidence of a small invasive fish in southern Lake Michigan for the first time. It could be an early warning that the species may be spreading and could migrate into the Mississippi River system.

The Eurasian ruffe entered the northern Great Lakes 25 years ago in the ballast water of a ship in Duluth harbor.

Part one of the two-part "Secret Persuasion" investigation, reported with the Center for Responsive Politics.

Bruce Pregler walks down the slope from his cabin, eases into the Au Sable River and casts his line; fishing takes his thoughts away from his downstate law practice.

Dead Fish Good Sign For Anglers, Not Swimmers

Jul 17, 2013

Just in time for peak travel season dead fish have been washing ashore on parts of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Kevin Skerl, the chief of natural resources at the lakeshore, says it’s not a big concern.

“This is something that happens every year. It’s just a question of if the conditions are such that the dead fish are showing up on beaches where people are,” says Skerl

Recently we reported how native fish are doing really well in one of the Great Lakes. The fish involved are not exactly well known species. But there is one that’s a household name in lakeshore communities and its success is sparking some scientific debate.

A fish with a cult following
Food and travel writers who visit The Cove seldom forget to mention the Chubby Mary. It’s a Bloody Mary with smoked chub in it. Mario Batali even put a photo of the cocktail on Bon Appetit’s website along with his endorsement.

Asian Carp Or Silverfin?

Mar 21, 2013

One of the strategies to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes is to eat the ones living in the Mississippi River. But finding a market for millions of pound of carp is not a simple matter. It will take more than a name change. We brought a few chefs together at The Great Lakes Culinary Institute to see what they could do with the fish. Hear about that and why harvesting an invasive species isn’t always a wise management strategy.

Salmon Struggling To Pass Betsie Bay

Sep 14, 2012

Michigan Natural Resources officials are trying to avoid a mass salmon die-off on Betsie Bay near the mouth of the Betsie River. Extremely low water levels are making it difficult for the fish to enter the river and to spawn.

But Fisheries Biologist Mark Tonello says if people stay away from the area there is enough room for the fish to swim up river.

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