Stocking cut 25% to save Lake Michigan salmon
Written by Detroit Free Press   
Tuesday, 15 November 2005 12:25

The four states surrounding Lake Michigan will reduce chinook salmon stocking by 25% next year in an effort to preserve dramatically declining bait-fish stocks. The states hope to prevent a collapse of the chinook fishery like the one that occurred in Lake Huron.

The biggest stocking reduction -- 30% -- will be in Michigan waters, where natural reproduction from streams pours about five million young chinooks into the lake in addition to the 4.4 million the four states have been stocking.

Lake Michigan produced record chinook numbers last summer, but the average size of the fish declined along with the numbers of alewives on which the chinook feed, fisheries managers said. Those were the same red flags they saw on Lake Huron a couple of years before the collapse.

Anglers largely supported the reductions when they were proposed in September.

Under the new plan, the states will stock about 3.2 million fish in all of Lake Michigan. Wisconsin will reduce its plants by 21%, Illinois by 17% and Indiana by 12%.

The fifth agency in the Lake Michigan coalition, the Chippewa-Ottawa Resource Authority, doesn't stock salmon but concentrates on increasing numbers of native lake trout that form the basis of the tribal commercial fishery.

The Indians did not object to reducing salmon stocking, but have expressed concern that it might lead to increased alewife production, increased predation on lake trout eggs and fry by alewives, and increased competition between alewives and young lake trout for food.


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