Northern Michigan Rejects Great Lakes Aquaculture

A poll conducted in January by EPIC-MRA found that 68% of Michiganders opposed putting commercial net-pen aquaculture in the Great Lakes. Where two such fish farms are proposed, though, opposition is even higher: 77% of northern Michigan residents oppose them. It's time to let northern Michigan legislators know where their constituents stand. 


The survey polled Michigan voters between January 23 and January 26. Residents were first asked, based on what they already knew, if they supported opening Michigan waters of the Great Lakes to commercial fish farming. Statewide, 56% of people answered that they opposed commercial fish farming in the Great Lakes, with only 17% in support. In northern Michigan, where two such facilities have been proposed near Rogers City in Lake Huron and Bay de Noc in Lake Michigan, initial opposition was even stiffer at 66% opposed and just 9% in support. 

Next, the surveyed voter was read a paragraph each summarizing arguments both in favor and opposed to Great Lakes commercial fish farming, as written here: 

Supporters of allowing fish farms in Michigan waters of the Great Lakes point out that Canadian fish farms annually produce about $16 million in rainbow trout which are sold to restaurants and groceries throughout North America, including Michigan. They say that with traditional heavy manufacturing in decline - especially in rural northern Michigan - fish farming in the Great Lakes offers a real chance for the state to expand its role in the global food economy. Supporters also point out that our state is well-positioned to launch this activity because of our existing scientific resources and expertise in engineering and manufacturing. 

Opponents of fish farming say the Great Lakes are too valuable to put at risk by breeding and raising fish in net-pens. The waste produced by the thousands of fish in net-pens poses a reat threat of uncontrollable nuisance and toxic algae blooms, posing a hazard not only to wild fish populations but also to the people who draw their drinking water from the lakes. They also point out that some fish always escape into the wider environment and because of inter-breeding, they threaten wild species such as salmon, trout and steelhead with genetic dilution. Opponents of farms in the Great Lakes believe the economic benefits of aquaculture can be achieved in land-based fish farms without threatening the health of our citizens or the $4 billion sport fishing industry and the other water dependent jobs in the tourism economy.

After listening to arguments both for and against fish farming, opposition to it grew even more. Statewide, 68% of voters opposed it with just 20% in support. In northern Michigan, that opposition grew to 77% verses just 13% in support. With a 4% margin of error, that opposition in northern Michigan could only be as low as 73% but as much as 81%!

Unfortunately, some of the legislators pushing for fish farms in Michigan-controlled waters of the Great Lakes are from this region of Michigan, where 8 out of 10 voters in their districts don't want what they're selling. On the other hand, representatives like Rep. Jon Bumstead of Newaygo are leading the charge to protect Great Lakes fisheries from commercial net pens.

So if you live in northern Michigan, you need to contact your state representative right now and tell them that you and 77% of your fellow constituents want to protect Great Lakes fishing from the effluent, disease and escapement risks posed by commercial net pen fish farms!

100 Jon Bumstead R S1289 HOB 5173737317
101 Ray A. Franz R S1385 HOB 5173730825
102 Phil Potvin R S1386 HOB 5173731747
103 Bruce Rendon R S1387 HOB 5173733817
104 Larry Inman R S1388 HOB 5173731766
105 Triston Cole R S1389 HOB 5173730829
106 Peter Pettalia R S1485 HOB 5173730833
107 Lee Chatfield R S1486 HOB 5173732629
108 Ed McBroom R S1487 HOB 5173730156
109 John Kivela D S1488 HOB 5173730498
110 Scott Dianda D S1489 HOB 5173730850

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