Indiana DNR is participating in a multi-state plan to scale back Chinook salmon stocking in Lake Michigan to better balance the lake’s ecosystem.
Under the lake-wide plan, the 3.3 million Chinook salmon annually stocked into Lake Michigan by Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois would be reduced to 1.7 million.
Indiana is pleased to have been part of this process,” said Brian Breidert, fisheries biologist for the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife. “We hope that this reduction will have benefits to not only the ecosystem but also our hatcheries.”
The proposed reduction is in response to two circumstances: recent increases in natural reproduction of Chinook salmon, and declines in the forage base.
The reduction has support from all the state and tribal fisheries management agencies that partner to manage Lake Michigan. Indiana’s decision to support the reduction came after more than a year of consultation between sport anglers, other stakeholders and DNR’s Division of Fish & Wildlife.
Recent studies have shown that approximately 55 percent of Chinook salmon in Lake Michigan result from natural reproduction and that prey fish populations, including alewives, are at or near historic lows. Balancing predator and prey populations is necessary to stabilize the ecosystem and to preserve the quality and diversity of the multi-billion dollar Lake Michigan sport fishery.
Indiana is cutting its annual Chinook salmon production by 25,000 fish, or 11 percent.
Michigan will shoulder the largest portion of the reduction, cutting its production by 1.1 million fish, because Michigan streams currently contribute the majority of the natural reproduction. Wisconsin will be reducing by 440,000, while Illinois will be reducing 20,000.
Along with the reductions, an adopted monitoring plan should allow management agencies to react more quickly if conditions change.
This proposed stocking reduction should still provide for fall spawning runs for the stream and near shore anglers.
Logo courtesy Indiana Department of Natural Resources