Angler works to wipe out goby
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 19 November 2004 14:31

A local Eagles Club wants to help control an exploding goby population by stocking Muskegon Lake with more walleye, which eat the invasive exotic fish.

Tom Matych, a fisherman, is leading the effort. But Matych needs a state permit to stock fish in the lake and government officials oppose his plan, saying Muskegon Lake won't support more walleye.

Matych blames the area's struggling perch population on goby, which compete with perch for food and prime spawning areas.

"This spring I was fishing for perch (in Muskegon Lake) and the ratio of fish I caught was 5-to-1 in favor of the goby," Matych said. "The gobies are winning. They far outnumber the perch and walleye in Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan."

Gobies are native to the Caspian and Black seas region and were introduced in the Great Lakes though the exchange of ship ballast water. They were imported to the Great Lakes around 1990.

Government fish biologists and independent scientists say there is no way to eliminate goby, alewife, zebra mussels or any other exotic species from the Great Lakes once they colonize an area.

Since 1998, the DNR has placed more than 2 million walleye in and around Muskegon Lake.

There isn't enough fish food in Muskegon Lake to support more walleye, according to James L. Dexter Jr., Lake Michigan basin coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Saginaw Bay can support more walleye because it is a larger bay and has more fish habitat, Dexter said.

Many scientists believe nonnative species, or biological pollution, is the most serious environmental threat to the Great Lakes. David Jude, a research scientist at the University of Michigan, said new species that enter the Great Lakes dramatically increase their numbers in the first few years.

"There are very, very large numbers of goby in Muskegon Lake now. I can't imagine their numbers getting any heavier in the lake," Jude said.

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