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Lake Michigan Committee Stocking Decision


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Here are the press releases issued today.

LMC news release salmon and trout stocking 10-11-16.pdf

Trout and Salmon Stocking Adjustments for Michigan Waters of Lake Michigan - Final- Oct 11 2016.pdf




Agencies seek to sustain diverse salmon and trout fishing opportunities into the future

ANN ARBOR, MI – In response to persistent and comprehensive evidence of declining pelagic prey fish abundance, the Lake Michigan Committee today proposed stocking reductions to better balance trout and salmon predators with their pelagic prey for 2017, while also sustaining Lake Michigan’s diverse trout and salmon fishery. The five-member Lake Michigan Committee comprises all state management agencies that border Lake Michigan and the Chippewa-Ottawa Resource Authority. Recommendations from the committee represent the consensus of its members.

The stocking adjustments, which would commence in spring 2017, underscore the committee’s shared commitment to sustain Lake Michigan’s prized salmon and trout fishery as the lake’s ecosystem shifts. Extensive changes to the lake’s food web, driven primarily by invasive species such as quagga and zebra mussels, have reduced the amount of food available for pelagic prey fish like alewife and rainbow smelt. Other ecosystem changes include enhanced natural reproduction of key predators, especially Chinook salmon, and increasingly lake trout, which intensifies the pressure on a declining pelagic prey fish community. Ongoing research by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state partners indicate that natural reproduction currently accounts for more than 60 percent of all Chinook salmon in Lake Michigan.

After engaging with respective governments, recreational anglers, charter fishers, partner agencies, community leaders and others, Lake Michigan Committee members will relieve pressure on prey fish by reducing salmon and trout stocking by the predator equivalent of more than 800,000 Chinook during 2017 and the predator equivalent of more than 900,000 Chinook in 2018 to provide sustainable and diverse fishing opportunities throughout the lake. Lakewide stocking of 1.32 million Chinook salmon will occur in 2017 -- a Chinook reduction of 27 percent -- recognizing that naturally produced Chinook salmon sustain much of the existing Chinook salmon fishery.

Lakewide lake trout stocking will be 2.74 million in 2017, a 12 percent reduction. In 2018, 2.54 million lake trout will be stocked. Under this consensus, each jurisdiction will have the ability to adjust stocking levels of certain species using "Chinook salmon equivalents" within its waters to meet the lakewide commitment to better balance predators with their prey. This approach to balancing the predatory demand on alewives and other pelagic prey fish will assist the Lake Michigan Committee with its goal to sustain a diverse salmon and trout fishery while simultaneously supporting its ongoing commitment to lake trout rehabilitation.

"We know from past experiences that these steps will enable us to follow through on our commitment to meet Fish Community Objectives for a multi-species salmon and trout fishery," said Lake Michigan Committee Chair Jay Wesley, of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. "Carrying out these shared objectives has proven extremely challenging for our member management agencies. However, we believe this consensus stocking strategy, in conjunction with the growing contribution from natural reproduction of Chinook salmon and lake trout, will maintain a more stable predator – prey balance, and support diverse and sustainable fishing opportunities in Lake Michigan."

Wesley said each state will implement the Lake Michigan Committee guidance with its own strategy in a spirit of collaboration consistent with the committee’s recommended framework.

To monitor effects of the stocking adjustments during 2017 and 2018, and to allow fishery managers to respond to changing conditions in the lake, the Lake Michigan Committee and partner entities will annually conduct comprehensive research and monitoring to evaluate the lake’s predator balance with its prey. These assessment efforts will produce a suite of biological indicators composed of long-term and short-term data collected and analyzed by state, federal, tribal and academic experts throughout the Lake Michigan basin. This collaborative process represents the best available science to promote sustainable and diverse fisheries for Lake Michigan.

The Lake Michigan Committee comprises fishery managers from the Chippewa-Ottawa Resource Authority, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. The Lake Michigan Committee’s work is facilitated by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, a Canadian and U.S. agency on the Great Lakes. The committee meets regularly to share information and develop shared fishery management plans, objectives and policies.

For more information, visit the Lake Michigan Committee online at www.glfc.org/lakecom/lmc/lmchome.php.


Marc Gaden, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, 734-669-3012

Jay Wesley, Lake Michigan Committee Chairman, Michigan, 269-685-6851

Brad Eggold, Wisconsin, 414-382-7921

Tom Gorenflo, Chippewa-Ottawa Resource Authority, 906-632-0072

Jeremy Price, Indiana, 260-244-6805

Vic Santucci, Illinois, 847-294-4134




October 11, 2016

Contact: Jay Wesley, 269-685-6851 Ext. 117 or Ed Golder, 517-284-5815

DNR announces stocking adjustments for Michigan waters of Lake Michigan

Following recommendations of the Lake Michigan Committee, the Department of Natural Resources will adjust Chinook salmon and lake trout stocking in 2017 and 2018 to relieve predation pressure on prey (alewives) in Lake Michigan.

This will be the fourth significant stocking adjustment to predator levels since 1999. The five-member Lake Michigan Committee is made up from all state management agencies that border Lake Michigan and the Chippewa-Ottawa Resource Authority. Recommendations from the committee represent the consensus of its members.

The committee worked throughout the summer with interested anglers and constituents to amend a proposal that had substantially targeted only a Chinook salmon reduction to today’s recommendation to reduce a mix of species to achieve the same reduction in predation pressure in Lake Michigan while recognizing the importance of Chinook.

"We received a considerable amount of comments from our advisory committee, sporting groups, anglers and the general public on how to address the predation issue," said Jay Wesley, DNR Lake Michigan Basin coordinator. "The one common goal we all shared through the review process was to maintain our diverse fishery in Lake Michigan with Chinook salmon as an important component of our multi-billion dollar sport fishery."

While most of the stocking adjustments will occur in other states, Michigan will stock 300,000 Chinook salmon in 2017 (down 46 percent from 2016) and will discontinue federally stocked lake trout in Grand Haven, Holland and New Buffalo in 2018. Lake Michigan’s Chinook fishery is supported by 60 percent wild fish that are mostly produced in Michigan’s rivers and streams. Michigan will also continue to stock 1.57 million coho salmon, 580,000 steelhead and 550,000 brown trout to maintain a diverse fishery.

In the near future, Michigan will eliminate its own stocking of lake trout in Lake Michigan (50,000) and replace these fish with steelhead.

"We appreciate the robust engagement Michigan citizens brought to this issue," said DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. "They learned more about the difficulty managing Lake Michigan, and we learned more about their fishing preferences. In the end, we will still meet our biological goal to reduce predation pressure and continue to provide a world-class fishery."

Michigan will continue to work with our anglers, state, tribal and federal partners to collect and evaluate wild fish recruitment, charter boat and creel success rates, prey fish and predator abundance to determine when salmon stocking might be increased.

"Data on predator and prey numbers, salmon weight and salmon condition (health) are considered annually to determine when it is safe to increase stocking in the future," said Wesley.

The DNR is committed to collaborative management of Lake Michigan management agencies and anglers alike to maintaining a diverse, world-class fishery. These actions in Michigan and in other jurisdictions will help protect our fishery and the economies throughout Michigan that depend on it.

Learn more about the changing ecology of Lake Michigan and its impact on salmon by watching a video on YouTube. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLiG4wwYM6M)

For additional information, visit the DNR"s salmon web page. (http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10364_52259-323650--,00.html)

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I wonder if the 300,000 Chinooks will be fingerlings? I'm assuming they will be since its much less expensive. Comparing that to the same number of yearling fish isn't even close as far as how many will survive to become adults.

I am happy about the number of Coho though. I now the charter boats probably don't get excited about that but for me Cohos make up the majority of the salmon I catch on a yearly basis. I am especially fond of spring Coho. Not sure why they taste so much better in the spring but the spring Coho are some of my favorite eating fish.

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