Great Lakes commercial fisheries issues to be discussed at Michigan Fish Producers conference

Topics include changing water levels, prey fish populations, sea lamprey control, contaminants, sustainability and purchasing local fish.

Fish packed in ice on a boat. Ron Kinnunen | Michigan Sea Grant
Fish packed in ice on a boat. Ron Kinnunen | Michigan Sea Grant

Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension will be coordinating a daylong, educational program on current issues affecting the Great Lakes commercial fishing industry. The program will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 31 as part of the Michigan Fish Producers Association Annual Conference at the Grand Traverse Resort in Acme, Michigan.

Topics will 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 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 Lake Michigan, prey fish populations are an important part of the lower food web and research on their status and trends will be presented.
  • Millions of dollars are spent each year for sea lamprey control, which is necessary to keep the population of this invasive species suppressed to reduce mortality on valuable Great Lakes fishes. A presentation on techniques for sea lamprey control will be presented. There is also the belief that lake whitefish which sustains the Great Lakes commercial fishery are being impacted by sea lamprey at higher rates than previously thought.
  • Contaminants in Great Lakes fish have been studied for years. A review of several fish species from the Great Lakes will show differences in contaminant levels based on the sex of the fish.
  • Those who consume fish are now more concerned about the sustainability of the fisheries of where their fish comes from. Thus a presentation will be made on the ecological sustainability of the Michigan Great Lakes fisheries so that consumers can be assured of what they consume comes from a fishery that is managed for its long term health.
  • Consumers are now more than ever interested in knowing where their food comes from and a presentation on purchasing local fish will be discussed. A Michigan Seafood Summit is being planned and the logistics of this conference will be discussed to insure the participation of the local Great Lakes fishery.
  • The Great Lakes region has a rich heritage in commercial fishing. New efforts are underway in a Great Lakes Heritage Consortium that will focus on establishing a statewide Michigan Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trail.

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

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