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Tuesday, January 26 • 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Long-Term Fish Community Surveys In The Michigan Waters of Lake Huron and Their Contribution to Fishery Management: Half a Century of Continuous Survey Assessment

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AUTHORS: David G. Fielder*, Michigan DNR; Ji X. He, Michigan DNR; Michael V. Thomas, Michigan DNR

ABSTRACT: Management of the fisheries in the Michigan waters of the Great Lakes shifted from the Federal Bureau of Commercial Fisheries to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in the late 1960s with a new emphasis on recreational fisheries. The Michigan DNR largely began from scratch by establishing stations for each of the lakes. Then, using large vessels as the primary work platforms, a series of fishery-independent netting surveys to assess the status of the depressed or collapsed stocks were developed. Some of these surveys have persisted for decades and have become legacies of information. They have chronicled much of the history of the Great Lakes from collapse, continued exotic invasions, stocking initiatives, and ultimately recovery. The original founders of these surveys, some who are still alive today, couldn’t not have envisioned how these assessments would continue annually and prove informative and insightful across a widely changing fish community. We examine this based on five surveys in the Michigan waters of Lake Huron, the annual Les Cheneaux Islands Survey established in 1969, the Lake Trout Spring Survey established in 1970, the Saginaw Bay Trawling Survey also begun in 1970, the St. Marys River Fish Community Survey begun in 1975, and the Saginaw Bay Gillnet Survey begun in 1989. Data from these surveys are used to illustrate the enormous change that has taken place and how these surveys enabled fishery managers to adapt and ultimately lead their fisheries to recovery. We believe in the value of long-term surveys as vital information sources for the management of important fisheries. These projects have transcended the mere data they represent and now constitute an informational heritage for the citizens of the state of Michigan.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 1:40pm - 2:00pm EST