Lake Michigan Conference Reports Show No Adjustments to 2005 Stocking Needed|
A recent conference on the status of Chinook salmon in Lake Michigan that brought together natural resources agencies and anglers from four states showed that no adjustments to the 2005 stocking plan for the lake are needed. However, Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials said the situation in the lake will be closely monitored to see if stocking reductions need to occur in future years.
The conference attendees heard reports from different natural resources agencies and its partners that showed that alewife, the main forage for Chinook salmon, are on the decline in Lake Michigan, while natural reproduction of salmon appears to be increasing. Last year, 4.4 million Chinook salmon were stocked in Lake Michigan, and it is estimated that perhaps as many as 5 million more are naturally produced.
"The information presented at this conference showed that while the forage for Chinook salmon is on the decline, it is not uncharacteristic when comparing it to several years of data," said Jim Dexter, DNR Lake Michigan basin coordinator and current chair of the Lake Michigan Committee. "Prior to the conference, many anglers were asking us to consider stocking cuts of salmon this year. However, we believe they were reacting to the situation in Lake Huron, where these problems are more pronounced, and have been receiving heavy press."
Dexter said that since Chinook salmon stockings were reduced in 1999, anglers have not been experiencing reduced fishing success for Chinook.
"We will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation in Lake Michigan," Dexter said. "The Lake Michigan Committee will take a hard look at this data and all future data to make the best decisions regarding objectives for the fishery and entire biological community. It is our long term goal to provide reasonable expectations for Great Lakes anglers while promoting native species recovery and insuring biological integrity in the face of nuisance aquatic species."
Dexter also noted that the public that attended the conference were supportive of the information and of the immediate plan for stocking and continued review of the management of Lake Michigan.
The DNR and several partners, including Michigan Sea Grant, will hold a similar series of workshops and meetings focusing on Lake Huron and its fishery beginning Saturday, April 16, in Bad Axe. For more details on the workshops and meetings, contact Michigan Sea Grant at 989-984-1060, or visit their Web site at www.miseagrant.umich.edu/workshops/huron-fisheries_wrksp.html.