Update: DNR says “No” to salmon stocking moratorium

Michigan fish managers  were impressed with the recent proposal by salmon anglers who requested a one to two-year moratorium on salmon stocking in Lake Michigan. That was  unheard of in the past.

The request was announced publicly Saturday at a half-day salmon stocking workshop in Benton, Harbor, MI where members of the state’s Lake Michigan Citizens Fishery Advisory Committee explained they would prefer to err on the side of caution rather than risk the collapse of the charter and recreational salmon fishery.

Jay Wesley, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan basin coordinator, complimented the LMCFAC members’ lake-wide concerns. He said past discussions got testy when stocking cuts were proposed.

“Having been in the meetings were previous cuts were discussed, in 1998 for a cut in 1999 and 2005 for a cut in 2006, there much more heated debates and perhaps more mistrust of the data provided. People were talking about their own fishery, not the lake as a whole,” Wesley said. “Theirs is a bold statement that makes think there is support for making significant cuts.”

A stocking moratorium would have been a political headache for Wesley. More so, than it was worth. Others at the Benton Harbor meeting didn’t like the idea. Cutting Chinook salmon stocks by 50 percent still left a 14 percent chance of ending up with too few alewives, Wesley said. Eliminating stocking didn’t cut that risk in half.

“A 100 percent cut didn’t make sense to us when there wasn’t that drastic a change,” Wesley said.

Comments about the four options still on the table will continue to be taken until May 15. They can can be submitted to Michigan Sea Grant at http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu  A decision is expected later this summer.

Copyright (c) 2012 Howard Meyerson

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