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Department of Natural Resources Announces 50% Chinook Reduction in Lake Michigan

September 25th, 2012

The Department of Natural Resources announced a final decision on stocking policy in Lake Michigan of Chinook salmon. After a year of public input and meetings, the Lake Michigan Committee chose to impose a reduction of stocking by 50%.

The policy, which will be implemented starting in 2013, hopes to maintain a diverse fishery and prevent the collapse of alewife populations, the primary prey food for predatory fish in Lake Michigan. The current stocking of 3.3 million Chinook will be reduced to 1.7 million.

The Lake Michigan Committee represents all of the Great Lakes states surrounding Lake Michigan, considering viewpoints from Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana as well as Michigan.

Of the states included, Michigan will incur the largest reduction (67%) and Wisconsin will become the leader in Chinook stocking with 724,000 salmon annually. Michigan will stock 585,500 annually, down from1.68 million.

Public engagement included the sending of 580 online surveys (271 from Michigan) presenting four proposed options:

1. 50% Chinook reduction with no feedback policy

2. 50% Chinook reduction with feedback policy

3. 30% Chinook and 10% other except Lake Trout

4. 30% Chinook reduction and 10% other including Lake Trout

Of the four options, Michigan residents preferred number 2. Option two includes a feedback policy, allowing the Department and the Lake Michigan Committee to evaluate the effects of the reduction every few years and adjust stocking accordingly.

The next steps involve a tactical plan to analyze each stocking location and implement the feedback policy by evaluating prey abundance and Chinook growth. The reduction plan outlining the options and goals can be found online.

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