whitefish

Jacques LeBlanc, a commercial fisherman from the Bay Mills Indian Community, pulls a gill net out of the ice on eastern Lake Superior.
Kaye LaFond

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.


A man in coveralls bends over a hole in ice and pulls out a net.
Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio


A decline in lake whitefish is pushing some tribal commercial fishermen out of Lakes Michigan and Huron. They’re 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 populations there can withstand the extra pressure.

Colin Shea

Saturdays are for selling fish. On this Saturday, Ed and Cindi John aim to earn a week's income in only five hours.

Cindi unfolds the tables while Ed drags big, blue coolers off their truck bed. They’re filled to the brim with fish – cisco, lake trout and lake trout patties.

“We come out rain or shine,” says Cindi. “If it’s pouring rain, we’ll be here.”

 

Morgan Springer

Lake whitefish are the most important commercial fish species in Michigan. But in the last decade, state biologists say fishers are harvesting about a third of what they used to get. 

A fight is brewing over Great Lakes fish

May 4, 2017

The rules for commercial fishing in Michigan are being rewritten in Lansing. The law is old and needs to be updated. There are only 21 non-tribal businesses licensed by the state to catch fish for market. Tribes fish under their own rules.

It’s the busy time of year for commercial fishing on the Great Lakes. But the price of whitefish is about half what it was three years ago, because of problems with international trade.