Michigan DNR Announces Cut For Stocked Chinook Salmon In 2017

After months of public meetings and forums a decision came down Tuesday.

Lake Michigan will see less stocked Chinook salmon in 2017.

The DNR decided to follow recommendations from the Lake Michigan committee.

For 2017, there will be a 46 percent reduction in the number of stocked Chinook salmon.

9&10’s Veronica Meadows spoke to the DNR and local business owners about what the decision means for them.

This is the fourth time ever the DNR decided to make cuts.

Now, local business owners worry they could be out of a job.

“It has a detrimental effect on the economies and the businesses and the enjoyment that recreational anglers have with our salmon fisheries in the state,” says Captain Glen Buehner.

The decision to cut 46 percent of stocked Chinook salmon in 2017 blindsided Captain Glen Buehner.

Now he worries about what will happen to his business, Ludington Charter Service.

“I could see my charter my business being out of business in 3 to 5 years,” says Buehner. “They are going to a native self-sustaining fishery and I’m going to lose my business.”

The DNR says it made the decision to balance the lake’s fragile ecosystem.

It wants to make sure there are enough alewives for the fish to eat.

“Chinook are generally the one that’s taken the largest percentage of cuts in the past because they’re the primary predator of alewife they only feed on alewife whereas the other species in the lake have a more diverse diet,” says Scott Heintzelman of the DNR.

The reduction only affects the amount of stocked Chinook and doesn’t take into account the number of salmon that naturally reproduce.

“We know that around 60 to 70 percent of the Chinook that are caught in Michigan waters are wild fish,” says Heintzelman. “Typically when we’ve made cuts in the past our wild population has responded by making more fish to fill that gap.”

Even so, Captain Buehner worries about what the move will mean for local economies along Lake Michigan.

“Through campgrounds motels hotels restaurants party stores gas stations they will lose hundreds of Millions of dollars,” says Buehner.

The DNR says in the near future Michigan will also stop stocking lake trout, replacing them with steelhead. 

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