In early July, state officials approved a significant expansion of a northern Michigan commercial fish hatchery’s operations after requiring additional measures to protect the cherished Au Sable River. It got us wondering: how important are fish hatcheries in the Great Lakes State and what is their role?
Gary Whelan joined us today. He is with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources where he's a Research Program Manager.
Whelan said the first hatcheries began in the early 1870’s. Even back then, fishery resources were in decline. The habitat loss was frightening. Fish were difficult to find, and commercial fishermen weren’t doing very well. One of the responses was to build fish hatcheries.
Today, there are six state hatcheries and three federal hatcheries in Michigan.
Whelan pointed out that fish hatcheries can help bring the lakes into balance.
“Using salmons in water where we have way too many prey species can make it into a balanced system that functions properly, ” Whelan said.
* Listen to our conversation with Whelan above.