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E-M:/ Biodiversity News from Great Lakes United

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>

Note information about Lake Michigan fisheries and the lynx in Michigan....

-Sender: andy@glu.org
Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998 10:51:07 -0500
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Andy Frank <andy@glu.org>
Subject: Great Lakes Habitat Watch #125

                      GREAT LAKES UNITED
                Great Lakes Habitat Watch #125
                    Week of August 24, 1998
about a potential collapse of portions of the sport
fishery, the Lake Michigan fisheries management
agencies are holding a joint lakewide meeting on
September 12 to evaluate the current fish stocking
levels and management objectives on Lake Michigan. 
This is a critical opportunity to comment on the
composition and long-term stability of the Lake
Michigan aquatic ecosystem.  

As members of the Lake Michigan Lake Committee, the
four state Departments of Natural Resources (MI, WI,
IL, IN) along with the Chippewa-Ottawa Treaty Fishery
Management Authority collaborate to hold conferences to
gain public feedback around critical fisheries
management issues as they develop.  In this case, at
risk is the stability of the LM salmonid fishery
(salmonids include both trout and salmon species) which
is composed of native lake trout and introduced chinook
salmon, coho salmon, steelhead, and brown trout. 

According to the committee, the salmonid sport fishery
on the lake has been maintained through a stocking
program that has averaged 14.7 million fish annually
over the past two decades.  Despite (and sometimes
because of) stocking programs, the ecosystem is still
susceptible to imbalance and crashes if careful
attention is not paid to survival rates and predator-
prey dynamics.  The agencies are concerned that current
stocking levels could lead a drastic collapse in the
chinook fishery similar to a crash in the late 80's. 

The agencies indicate that the reason for instability
is a declining population of alewife in the lake.
Alewife are a non-native but now naturalized and
dominant prey fish of the lake.  While they are fed on
by all five top salmonids, chinook take a vast majority
-- consuming perhaps as much as the other four species
combined.  After chinook, the second major alewife
consumer is lake trout, with the other three species'
impacts being considered relatively minor. 

The meeting will present several stocking options for
the lake and the predicted outcomes based on agency
modeling.  The options will range from leaving the
levels where they are, to ceasing stocking altogether.
The options expected to receive the most consideration
are 1) to cut stocking across all five species to
achieve a prey consumption threshold, and 2) to cut
only chinook stocking to achieve the same threshold.
There may be other options presented as well, and the
question of cost to native species and full-ecosystem
restoration by managing for stability in the
alewife/chinook fishery needs to be raised by groups
concerned about biodiversity and the lake's natural

Registration is $15 dollars before September 8 and is
being managed by the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council. 
Contact GLSFC at 630-941-1351, hdqtrs@great-lakes.org. 

LYNX NEED YOUR VOICE:  The comment and public hearing
period is underway regarding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service's proposal to list the Canada lynx as a
threatened species. The FWS proposal has only come
about through more than six years of effort to get the
lynx listed by various groups including Predator

According to Predator Project, the "threatened"
protection level is not adequate to protect the
isolated populations of lynx across the country.  There
are some 500 lynx in fragmented pockets in Montana, but
fewer than 50 live in Minnesota, Idaho, Maine and
Wyoming and only scattered sightings in Michigan,
Wisconsin, New York and other traditional ranges.  

Predator Project believes that 1) regional lynx
populations should be considered separately as there is
little chance for migration across territories, and 2)
the protection level should be elevated to
"endangered," which is more clearly the condition on a
state or regional basis. Protection of lynx habitat
means protection of old-growth and interior forest
systems, some of the most imperiled systems in the U.S.

There is only one Midwest hearing scheduled on the
issue -- Tuesday, September 15, from 7-9PM at the North
Great Lakes Center in Ashland, WI (preceded by an open
house starting at 6).  Written comments are due by
September 30 and should be sent to USFWS, Lynx Listing,
100 North Park, Suite 320, Helena, Montana, 59601.
Contact Predator Project at 406-587-3389.


Great Lakes Habitat Watch is produced by GLU's
Biodiversity and Habitat Protection Task Force. The
task force is committed to protecting natural areas,
resources and strong conservation laws in the face of
"wise use" efforts.   Please send stories to Andy Frank
via phone: (716) 886-0142; fax: (716) 886-0303; or e-
mail: andy@glu.org.

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