Another round of public meetings are set for August 7 in Green Bay and August 9 in Milwaukee to discuss the results from online surveys conducted in April that allowed the public to comment on potential stocking reductions in Lake Michigan that scientists say are necessary to balance game fish with the available food source. In addition, tentative information concerning the details of the reductions will also be discussed.
The meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m. August 7 at the Northeast Region Headquarters (2984 Shawano Avenue, Green Bay, Wisconsin 54313-6727) and 6:30 p.m. on August 9 at the WATER Institute in Milwaukee (600 E. Greenfield Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53204).
“We want to not only go over the results from an online survey that anglers were asked to complete gauging their preferred option for salmon and trout reductions but also tentative details concerning how each state will implement those reductions slated to start in 2013.” says Brad Eggold, the Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan Fisheries Supervisor.
“Despite an exceptional coho harvest and good size-at-age among chinook salmon in 2011, lake-wide forage assessments and computer modeling conducted by Michigan State University researchers suggest that the number of trout and salmon being stocked in Lake Michigan exceeds what can be supported by the available prey fish in the future”, says Bill Horns, the Department of Natural Resources Great Lakes fisheries specialist.
“The computer modeling as well as forage and game fish survey data suggests that we risk a future collapse in both alewives and game fish if stocking levels stay the same,” he says. “Concern about the stability of the Lake Michigan alewife population has increased in recent years as we have watched the dramatic declines in Chinook salmon harvest in Lake Huron after alewife populations there crashed.”
Biologists in the four states bordering Lake Michigan have reviewed model results and consulted with interested anglers regarding future stocking policies. The Wisconsin meetings, as did the initial Benton Harbor, Michigan meeting, examined five options pulled together in workshops over the last year by the states’ fisheries biologists and representatives of fishing and other interested groups.
The options include sticking with current stocking levels or implementing one of four alternative patterns of reduction in stocking of chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead, brown trout, and lake trout. According to the models, the probability of reducing alewife abundance to an unacceptable level can be reduced seven-fold, from 23 to 3 percent by implementing one of the stocking options.