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March 27, 2012

Anglers can weigh in online or in person April 14

Editor's note: This release has been updated to note two related meetings set for Wisconsin in May to provide anglers more opportunities to get information and provide feedback.

MADISON -- Anglers can weigh in online or in person on April 14 to advise Great Lakes states on potential future fish stocking reductions in Lake Michigan to better balance the number of trout and salmon in the lake with the available prey for those angler-favorites. A lake-wide stocking reduction in chinook starting in 2006 has helped but not enough, new research suggests.

A half-day workshop on the issue and stocking reduction options is set for Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor, Mich. People can participate in person or online; those wanting to participate online must pre-register and will find instructions for doing so, and informational materials, at Michigan Sea Grant (exit DNR) website.

Fisheries biologists are concerned that stocking salmon and trout at the current levels may decrease alewife populations in the lake in future years, which in turn would affect the number, size and condition of the trout and salmon that feed on the alewives, according to Brad Eggold, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fish supervisor for Southern Lake Michigan.

"The April 14 meeting is a chance for people to review this model and help us determine the future direction of the salmonid fishery in Lake Michigan. We encourage anglers and others with an interest in Lake Michigan's fisheries to review and comment on this important topic."

Computer modeling conducted by Michigan State University researchers suggests that the number of trout and salmon being stocked in Lake Michigan will still be too high for available prey fish in the future, despite a 25 percent lake-wide cut in chinook stocking starting in 2006, and risks a future collapse in both prey fish and game fish if stocking levels stay the same.

Alewives make up the bulk of the food the trout and salmon eat, and the alewife, itself an invasive species, is now finding that its main food supply is being disrupted by invasive species that arrived after it, quagga mussels in particular.

Fish biologists from Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan have been meeting over the last year with stakeholder groups to review the results of the chinook stocking cuts that started in 2006.

The review was part of a promise made by the states when the original reduction was proposed. In Wisconsin, the condition of chinook and egg collections were improving as a result of the 25 percent lake-wide reduction in chinook, according to Randy Schumacher, regional fisheries supervisor.

However, the modeling by Michigan researchers as part of the review suggests that reduction in chinook stocking wasn't enough. Changes to the alewife population and more natural reproduction of trout and salmon in Michigan tributaries to Lake Michigan are creating a continuing imbalance between the number of trout and salmon and the prey fish they feed on, Schumacher says.

Schumacher and Eggold encourage anglers to participate online or in person at the April 14 workshop, which begins at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, noon Wisconsin time, because this workshop will provide the most complete information on the status of the fishery and current model results. However, people who can't make this date will have two more meetings in May to learn similar information and give their feedback. These meetings will be May 1 at the UW-W WATER Institute, 600 E. Greenfield Avenue, Milwaukee, 53204 and May 8 at the Brown County Library, 515 Pine Street, Green Bay, 54301. Both meetings will run from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Eggold - 414-382-7921; Randy Schumacher - 266-894-3006 or Lisa Gaumnitz - 608-264-8942

Last Revised: Tuesday, March 27, 2012

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