Marine sanctuary considered for area waters
Written by Herald Times Reporter   
Thursday, 26 March 2009 15:05
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) met with local fishing officials recently to discuss the possibility of opening a marine sanctuary in the Manitowoc and Two Rivers area.

The sanctuary would be just the 14th of its kind in the United States and only the second in the Great Lakes area, with the other being on Lake Huron in Thunder Bay, Mich.

"They're looking at the area just north of Two Rivers," said Tom Kocourek, president of the Northeastern Wisconsin Great Lakes Sports Fishermen. "There is a 875 square-mile area on Lake Michigan that they are looking at."

Kocourek said the Wisconsin Historical Society has also become involved and the hope is that it would work with NOAA to get the marine sanctuary in place.

"The main purpose would be to preserve shipwrecks," Kocourek said. "Shipwrecks are better preserved in fresh water than they are in salt water and there are 14 known in the area and we believe there are more yet to be discovered."

Ellen Brody, coordinator of the Thunder Bay sanctuary, was present at last week's meeting and was there to assuage any fears locals may have about how a sanctuary would affect the sports or commercial fishermen. Kocourek said it was his understanding that Brody would be in charge of the sanctuary if one would open here.

"We were told that it would in no way impact fishermen," Kocourek said. "They said there were similar concerns when they opened the sanctuary in Thunder Bay and it hasn't been a problem."

Kocourek said one of the goals of the sanctuary would be to work with the local fishermen so they don't disrupt the shipwrecks.

"They want to mark the wrecks with lighted buoys," Kocourek said. "That would prevent the fishermen from hitting the wrecks when they drag their nets."

Kocourek said NOAA was working with the Wisconsin Historical Society to get the sanctuary started, but emphasized that this is just in the beginning stages and that it could be quite some time before such a sanctuary is set up.

"It took 20 years to get the one in place in Thunder Bay," Kocourek said. "We don't think this one would take as long since there is a blueprint in place. It all depends on what the people on the advisory committee think."
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