Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Algae in Lake Erie hurting fishing industry; prized walleye fleeing water

Algae blooms in Lake Erie are having a major impact on the region's fishing industry, causing the coveted walleye fish to flee for less greener pastures and forcing charter boat captains to cancel trips, John Seewer reports for The Associated Press. "Fishing guides who make their living on the lake say this year's algae bloom is quickly rivaling the worst they've seen in past years." (Blade photo by Vanessa McCray: Algae on the Lake Erie shoreline)

Blooms are being blamed "for contributing to oxygen-deprived dead zones where fish can't survive," Seewer writes. "Charter boat operators say the first question they hear is no longer about whether the fish are biting. It's now 'How bad is the algae?' and 'Can I eat the fish?'" Blooms, which tint the water a ghoulish green color, "produce a toxin that can cause vomiting, diarrhea or liver damage in extreme cases." Last summer, toxins contaminated the drinking water for 400,000 in the Toledo area and southeastern Michigan.

While officials say the walleye is safe to eat, based on tests conducted over the past four years, that hasn't eased concerns for customers, Seewer writes. Boat captain Dave Spangler, who has spent more than two decades taking groups on the lake, said "the walleye have become so scare that he has discouraged some customers from coming out" and has canceled four trips in the past few weeks. He said he ends up having to take groups farther away, costing him gas money. Spangler told Seewer, "We can get into cleaner water but never completely out of the algae." (Read more)

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