Great Lakes commercial fisheries issues on tap at Michigan Fish Producers Association Conference

Michigan Sea Grant Extension’s free daylong event offers sessions on lake water levels, whitefish stocks, cisco restoration, safety and more.

Topics at the Michigan Fish Producers Association conference include whitefish stock, cisco restoration and more. Photo: Ron Kinnunen | Michigan Sea Grant
Topics at the Michigan Fish Producers Association conference include whitefish stock, cisco restoration and more. Photo: Ron Kinnunen | Michigan Sea Grant

Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension are coordinating a free educational program on current issues affecting the Great Lakes commercial fishing industry. The program is 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, as part of the Michigan Fish Producers Association Annual Conference at the Park Place Hotel in Traverse City.

Topics include:

  • Since commercial fishers require deepwater access to the lakes for their fishery businesses, the impacts of changing water levels on the Great Lakes will be discussed. The upper Great Lakes have made a remarkable recovery from extremely low water levels to well above average water levels in a very short duration.
  • The status and management of Great Lakes lake whitefish stocks in the 1836 Treaty Waters of Lakes Superior, Huron, and Michigan will be reviewed. The State of Michigan and the five tribes that fish under the 1836 treaty work together to manage the valuable lake whitefish fishery for both tribal and state licensed fishers. In addition a representative from the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians will make a presentation on the status and prospects of tribal commercial fisheries in the 1836 treaty waters.
  • In the Great Lakes, prey fish populations are an important part of the lower food web and research by U.S. Geological Survey on their status and trends will be presented. In recent years the prey fish populations have been at very low levels and discussions by Michigan Sea Grant and The Nature Conservancy will occur related to cisco restoration and habitat rehabilitation to help fill this void in the food chain.
  • Commercial fishing is the most dangerous profession. New regulations are on the horizon for Great Lakes commercial fishers that will require special training to meet new U.S. Coast Guard requirements. This training will require boat captains to become familiar with various safety equipment and how to deal with emergencies at sea. Eight Drill Conductor courses were held in the Great Lakes region in the past two years and those programs will be reviewed along with new courses planned in the upcoming year. A representative from the U.S. Coast Guard will be available to discuss commercial fishing vessel safety.
  • Sea lamprey control continues to be a major effort in the Great Lakes region to help keep this aquatic invader in check to protect our Great Lakes fishery. There will be an update by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the sea lamprey control program in Lake Michigan.
  • More than ever, commercial fishing nets are exposed to fouling from quagga mussels and filamentous algae which can be costly to commercial fishers. A representative from Netminder will review protective coatings to deal with this issue.
  • Great Lakes commercial fish processors continue to operate under the Seafood Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) program and a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development official will discuss frequently seen issues with inspections, seafood approved sources, and the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Event is free, more info

There is no charge for attending this event. For a detailed agenda, visit the Michigan Sea Grant website.

Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and its MSU Extension, Michigan Sea Grant is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs.

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