Michigan Sea Grant Meeting - Part 2
Written by Rick Balabon - Team Experience Outdoors   
Tuesday, 30 January 2007 18:10

Alternative fuels and lubricants

Dennis Donahue from NOAA gave a short presentation on alternative fuels and lubricants for the marine industry, specificity he spoke on Bio-Diesel and E-100. E-100 is made from soybeans grown in the U.S. and is a more environmentally friendly product than petroleum based diesel fuel. E-100 has a low impact on the eco-system because it breaks down more easily when introduced into the water whether through a fuel spill or in the bilge. It has a lower sulphur content and burns cleaner, and that means less black smoke on start ups and acceleration. E-100 has a less offensive odor and that helps reduce the chances of sea sickness due to breathing the exhaust.

Dennis claims that E-100 also helps with easier starting, quieting engine noise, better lubricity, improved performance and it costs less. It does have less BTUs  ( about 8% ) so you will use slightly more fuel but with the lower cost it still makes a good alternative. It also is not considered to be a hazardous material and the exhaust from E-100 reduces hydrocarbon output by 67%, carbon monoxide by 48% and particulate matter in the air by 47%.  It will not harm your existing fuel system components other than it may cause issues with older rubber hoses and components that have PVC or nitrile, but newer boats don’t use these products.

A couple of draw backs when first switching over to E-100 you may have to change fuel filters the first couple of tanks as it does have a high detergent effect on the fuel system and will loosen crud and debris. It isn’t easily available but most fuel suppliers will deliver to your boat if you buy 200 gallons or more and you can get your marinas ok to have the fuel delivered to your boat. Just like diesel it does have poor cold flow issues. It also is hydrophilic, meaning it will easily absorb or dissolve in water. NOAA has been using E-100 the last 6 years in their 3 Great lakes boats and have had no problems. They have also switched all of the machinery onboard to soy based lubricants, including the transmissions, engines, gear boxes, winches, and hydraulic units and have had good success with them. Soy based lubricants and E-100 are renewable resources and they reduce the dependency on foreign oil.

Lake Michigan Fishery Issues

Tom Rozich and Mark Tonello from the Michigan DNR, Fisheries Division, gave a report on Lake Michigan. Last falls weir returns looked good, Chinook numbers and size were up, they reported that 13 master angler Chinooks were entered last year with the largest being over 32 pounds caught in Frankfort. The Coho numbers were down but they noted a large numbers of jack Coho running the rivers and in the past that has indicated a good Coho year the following year. Steelhead numbers were good this year and brown trout were a little better but still down over the average return.

The early trawl samples indicate the alewife recruitment was significant and the warm winter so far should help the YOY alewife survival. They reported that the DNR is working on a new strain of brown trout, called the “ Sturgeon River Strain “ and that the Seaforellen strain will probably be discontinued in a couple of years due to the poor returns . They said that the Seaforellen strain are poor eaters, slow growing, have genetic problems and some disease issues. They will continue with the “Wild Rose Strain” and the “Gilchrest Strain” of brown trout for stream and river and inland lake plants. They also said that they feel some of the problems with the brown trout return could be due to predation from cormorants and other birds as well as from other fish and loss of forage base.

They talked a little bit about the new exotic found recently in Muskegon. The “Hemimysis anomala” is a small crustation or flea like exotic that came from the Caspian Sea area. It is red in color but it can change colors, it is about ½ inch long and it appears that it may compete with zooplankton for food. They prefer shallow water and rocky bottom but have been found as deep as 150 feet. They do hide in the day time and become active and feed at night. No one knows what effect they will have on our lakes at this time but it has been introduced overseas as a fish food for some species so it may replace something in the food chain that has been missing.

Cormorant Control in Lake Michigan

Pete Butchko the USDA, Wildlife Services Director. gave a report on cormorant control in the great lakes and Lake Michigan in particular . He said that they were going to start some control measures on Lake Michigan this year and would be making a determination on the exact areas soon. He said that there has been a reduction of 56 % nesting adults since 2004 when the control measures started and a 10% reduction in northern Lake Michigan nesting adults. The control measures they have been using include egg oiling and harassment measures. These birds can live up to 20 years and eat several pounds of food per day, so if they are feeding on a fish hatch, they could reduce the numbers dramatically. They estimate that there are over 67,000 nesting pair of cormorants in the Michigan area and that the breeding population has increased 1000 fold since 1972 in the Great Lakes. The State of Michigan has announced increased funding for the control measures to match federal funds already being used.

License Package

Denny Grinold from the Michigan Charter Boat Association gave a short presentation on the Michigan license package proposal. He showed the budgets of the DNR and where the shortfalls are and talked about program cuts if there is not some kind of an increase to the Michigan DNR budget,.  Increase either by license increase or from more general funding from the legislature. He described all of the parts of the proposal and how they came up with the package, he also showed us the license fees from surrounding states and gave us a break down on the numbers in personnel that the surrounding states have in their DNRs compared to Michigan. 

He also noted that the increase was only a short term solution to the problem and that they are working on some long term ideas such as a sales tax increase to help support the DNR much like the state of Missouri and Arkansas have. These states dedicate approx. ¼ of 1 percent of their sales tax to fund their departments. They still have license fees but they are generally in the 10 to 15 dollar per license range, but the problem is that there are no state legislators in Michigan that are willing to take the risk of asking for any kind of a sales tax increase at this time due to the political climate in the state. Legislators feel it would be political suicide if they did.

Meanwhile the Michigan DNR will be approx. 9 million dollars in the red by the 2008 fiscal year and at that time more cuts will have to be made. The license fee increase would restore funding to the DNR and restore the cut programs including the Coho program, research, creel surveys and summer staffing for other programs in both Fisheries and Wildlife Divisions. It appeared that most at the meeting didn’t like the idea of a license increase but would support one as they agreed that they get a good value for their money with their licenses and did not want to take the risk of more program cuts in the future. MUCC has come out in support of the package but it was reported that the NRA came out against it. Other organizations around the state are currently reviewing the package and will have some comment on it at a later date I’m sure.

 
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