Chinook subject of meeting
Written by Cheboygan Daily Tribune   
Friday, 19 August 2005 04:01
An issue that affects residents along the Lake Huron shoreline from Port Huron to Sault Ste. Marie will be the focus of a public meeting Saturday at Saginaw Valley State University.

Chinook salmon fishery in Lake Huron will be discussed at a meeting from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. at the university.

"We looked for the most central location to host this meeting, as the issue is important to such a broad number of counties," said Tammy Newcomb, acting assistant chief of the department of natural resources fisheries division.

"Research and angler catch surveys show that Chinook salmon are much smaller and harder to find in Lake Huron than in past years," she explained.

"The abundance of prey fish that are eaten by game fish is at very low levels, similar to 1998. The scientists are uncertain if this large reduction in prey fish is due to a major change in the food web of the lake as a result of an aquatic invasive species or if it is a temporary imbalance between predators and prey."

Because of this, Newcomb said that the DNR, along with the Lake Huron Citizens' Advisory Committee, is recommending a 50 percent reduction in the number of Chinook salmon stocked in Lake Huron to try to restore balance between the number of salmon and their prey and improve the Chinook salmon fishery.

She said that the decline is fairly recent, and in 2002, the best fishing rates for Chinook were recorded in Lake Huron.

"In 2003 and 2004, things started to look amiss ... the salmon were getting smaller and were in poor condition," she said.

"The Chinook salmon are on a decline more in southern counties, but lake-wide, we are generally seeing fewer salmon on fishing lines. The fish are skinny and smaller," she said.

Newcomb said that lake trout seem to be doing well and that the reduction in stocking is an effort to rehabilitate fisheries throughout the entire lake.

"We are trying to re-balance the system," she said.

She said that the stocking will be reduced from 2.4 million to 1.2 million and that in three places, stocking will be stopped entirely.

"We hope to see the fish growing bigger and surviving better in more locations. We want to have a better quality fish at the end of fishing lines."

The meeting will feature an informational session on the current status of Chinook salmon and other species in Lake Huron and also provide for a public comment period. Newcomb encouraged anglers to attend: "This is a great opportunity to get questions answered and be part of the public process for fishery management."

The meeting will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall on the SVSU campus located in 7400 Bay Road in University Center. To get to the meeting from Interstate 75, take exit 160, Bay Road, M-84 and travel south on Bay Road for 4 miles. The university entrance in on the east side.

Newcomb is urging everyone impacted by the Chinook salmon fishery to get additional information at www.michigan.gov/dnr and click on fishing.

 
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