Points North, Ep. 2: Chasing whitefish

Feb 28, 2019

This week on Points North, a decline in lake whitefish is pushing tribal commercial fishermen to the northern edge of their treaty waters. Plus, we look at test results for PFAS contamination in Michigan’s public water and meet a funk band from Boyne City.

Cornered by invasives, tribal fishermen chase whitefish to Lake Superior
Fish, mostly herring, that Jacques LeBlanc has just retrieved from his gill net through a hole in the ice on Lake Superior.
Credit Kaye LaFond

A decline in lake whitefish is pushing some tribal commercial fishermen out of Lakes Michigan and Huron. 

“There was a lot more fishermen that fished down in the lower lakes,” says Jacques LeBlanc Jr. “And then the fish just started disappearing.” 

Now tribal fishermen are spending more time in Lake Superior, the only place they say they can still make a living. This has fishermen and scientists worried about whether whitefish there can withstand the extra pressure.

Learn more about changes in whitefish populations and how fishermen are coping.


Where have PFAS contaminated Michigan's public water?
In April of 2018, the MDEQ began testing more than 1,000 public water systems for PFAS. This interactive map shows where PFAS have been found in public water.
Credit Kaye LaFond

Last spring, the state began testing more than 1,000 public water systems for a class of chemicals known as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances – or PFAS. All the results are now in: PFAS have shown up in 119 public water supplies and 59 school programs around the state.

Read more about the state findings.

Correction: in an earlier version of this episode the host said the Wurtsmith Air Force Base was in Otsego. The base is actually in Oscoda.

NoMI funk band to record live album in front of audience

The Pistil Whips is a funk band based out of Boyne City.
Credit Phillip Hutchinson

Some fans of The Pistil Whips say they sound better live. That’s one reason why the band’s next project is going to be a live album. They record Sunday night in Petoskey and the public is invited to join them.


We want to hear from you:

Next week we’ll have a story about what it’s like to live on a northern Michigan island in the winter. We’d like to include your comments about surviving winter Up North in that show. Call and leave us a message at 231-276-4444 or email a voice memo to ipr@interlochen.org. You can also post a comment below.