Thursday, April 26, 2018

Lake Michigan states help each other maintain fish populations by shipping each other fish and eggs

Some fish travel from one Great Lake to another the natural way (through connecting rivers and streams) but these days some are traveling to Lake Michigan in unexpected ways: by road, air and even mail.

"States around Lake Michigan trade fish eggs and stock on an ongoing basis, part of a long-term effort to maintain population levels and to regulate the balance of predator and prey species in the lake," Kate Elizabeth Queram reports for Route Fifty. Biologists and natural resource managers in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois maintain an informal network wherein they send each other fish or eggs when there's an area shortage, at no cost. The network, which has no governing or regulatory body, has been going strong for at least a century.

"Over the years, as we’ve seen the fish populations make these tremendous swings in different directions, we all realize that if we don’t work together we don’t stand a chance of managing the fisheries in the Great Lakes,” said Ed Eisch, fish production program manager for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. "There has to be a cooperative spirit or it just flat-out won’t work. Everybody has a stake in seeing it be successful—for our constituents, for our recreational opportunities and for the economic benefit each state sees as a result of a healthy ecosystem. If we don’t work together, we can’t get anything done."

The Lake Michigan group is one illustration of how hard fisheries experts work to maintain the fish populations in the Great Lakes, and how devastating an invasion of Asian carp could be.

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