A once native
species may be restored in Lake Michigan, and the economic output of the
region’s fishing industry exceeds $22 million.
Those were the
takeaways from the annual Lake Michigan Fisheries Workshop at the Hammond
Marina earlier this month.
Zischke of Purdue University introduced speakers for an evening of research
funded by the Indiana-Illinois Sea Grant (region boaters may recognize the
new weather buoy in the Michigan City marina as a Sea Grant project).
Zischke said part of the work done under the Sea Grant, which has created a
partnership between Purdue University and the University of Illinois, is
intended to bring together anglers, scientists, and local wildlife managers.
He also noted that fisherman and the groups they belong to can use the new
research to lobby politicians for better public access or conservation
Chuck Bronte of
U.S. Fish & Wildlife delivered a presentation on the results of a ciscoe
study on the Great Lakes. A forage fish for predators, ciscoes are a member
of the whitefish family and reach a maximum size of 12 or 13 inches when at
high density. When populations are lower, they can reach 15 or 20 inches.
migratory fish that prefers deep water far offshore--are still present in
Lake Superior but have all but disappeared from Lakes Erie and Ontario,
while their population is critically low in Southern Lake Michigan. That
means, according to Bronte, that the ciscoe meets the criteria for
successful reintroduction of the species. Making the environment ideal for
reintroduction are a reduction in commercial fishing, the decline of other
forage fish, the presence of spawning habitat, and more than adequate food
A stocking program
would likely sample remnant populations in the Great Lakes to create a brood
stock that is closely related to the native populations of the past. The
goals would be to achieve natural reproduction of ciscoes and provide a food
source for predators.
anglers may be interested to know that ciscoes, also called chubs, could
provide a better forage base for chinook salmon following the decline of the
invasive alewife. They’re not likely to compete with lake perch for food
because the two species inhabit different parts of the water column and the
lake itself. Lake trout could also bounce back with the restoration of
native ciscoe populations.
that Lake Superior is the only stronghold for several subspecies of ciscoes,
where they make up 30 percent of the average chinook salmon’s diet. They
were also a main food source for Lake Michigan lake trout before the
introduction of alewives and rainbow smelt.
Economics of Region
of the University of Illinois presented her findings on the economic impact
of the fishing industry in the Region. Her research drew information from
creel surveys and follow-up surveys about the costs of fishing. Participants
were separated into groups based on whether they tended to fish from shore
or boats, and asked about how much they spend on the costs of travel,
parking, bait, and boating. Golebie and her team then used economic analysis
software to estimate how many jobs are sustained by the local fishing
industry and how much output it produces.
indicate that recreational fishing sustains 231 jobs in NWI and the Chicago
area, and creates an output of $22 million dollars. Surprisingly, shore
anglers tended to spend more money on tackle than boaters.
Anglers in the
audience told Golebie their main concern is the decline of small bait shops
and fishing charters and the loss of shore access. They also pointed out
that creel surveys are usually taken between March and October, and
fisherman in the region stay active throughout the winter chasing perch and
Golebie was glad to
have the feedback and said those are concerns she could account for in