NANFA-L-- NANFA-L-Fish crash

Bob Muller (
Sat, 21 May 2005 22:47:49 -0400

I was just-in-a talk by Jerry Smith one of the co-hosts of the Ann Arbor
NANFA convention. Scary news for the Great Lakes. Now these lakes are the
most messed up freshwater ecosystem anywhere. We used to have Lake trout
but the sea lamprey and over fishing did them in. Also the Cisco, small
whitefish that were what the lake trout ate crashed. Of six species three
have become extinct. Most of the small towns on the Michigan coast used to
be fishing towns with hundreds of jobs. That permanently ended in the
1950's. Then the Alewife, which got here the same way the sea lamprey did
in the canal around Niagara Falls, became 90% of the great lakes biomass.
There used to be hugh die offs that littered the beaches. In the 1960's
Coho and Chinook salmon from the west coast were planted to eat the alewife.
The salmon had a large food source and I believe the world record Coho comes
from here not the west coast. Commercial fishing never restarted but the
sport fishing for salmon is a multi-billion dollar industry creating jobs in
those same coastal towns that used to catch Lake trout. Now the zebra
mussels have removed all the plankton and the alewife's have crashed. Since
the DNR puts hundred of thousands of salmon from the hatcheries into the
lakes and there is no food left we have what the fishermen are calling snake
salmon (starved salmon). The salmon are crashing along with lake whitefish,
which still had a small commercial harvest. The only up side, if there is
one, is that the ciscoes seem to be having a population increase-in-least
for now. We are also now starting to get round gobies in the small creeks,
they eliminate darters and sulpins. I can hardly wait until the bighead and
grass carp get here.

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