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Is our fishery at risk?

June 9, 2012
Daily Press


The writer bases his comments that follow on our fishery through talking and listening to biologists that specialize in said subject, and from personal experiences otherwise. The writer would like to address two principal sources of devastation to the fishery in Michigan and specifically the Upper Peninsula. The two are the double crested cormorant and secondly, the foreign species of plants and aquatic life brought to our shores in the ballast water of ocean going vessels returning from the Far East ports.

These two devastating problems likely started in the early 1990s and our main source of preventative action would be our U.S. Congress representative and senators and our Congress as a whole. Did those in power at the beginning of the devastation take any action? The writer has not been exposed to any.

Prior to the introduction of the chemical DDT in 1939 to control insects and disease, mainly in farming, biologist estimated there would be a + or - 500 pair annually in the warmer weather season of the above cormorant in the entire of Michigan.

In 1972 DDT was outlawed and cormorants being ultra sensitive to the chemical, their population was then near zero and other aquatics in the Lake States and Canada, their food, they migrated north to feed and breed during the warmer months and their population exploded. Reportedly they ate a pound of food per day, plus what they wasted, and their population in Michigan reached close to 100,000 at its peak and two million in all of Lake States and Canada.

Not until 2004 was anything done by Congress or otherwise until the businesses and fishermen in the Drummond and Les Cheneaux Island area strongly complained of the cormorant's devastation that the USF&WS delegated action to the Wildlife Service in the Dept. of Agriculture.

Secondly, in data compiled by government agencies there was estimated to be some 160 invasive species of plant and animal life introduced nation wide in recent years. Several that seriously affect our fishery are the mussels, round goby, and Eurasian ruffe fish, all brought to our shores in ballast water. First came the zebra mussel, followed by the quagga mussel, the latter supposedly destroying 97 percent of the zebra, being a more vicious and aggressive aquatic and going to all depths of water.

It is logical to conclude that in the beginning of such shipping in the late 1980s or early 1990s the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards be the enforcing agencies to see that ballast water be properly treated and disposed of for ships entering the Great Lakes form foreign ports. It appears that the U.S. Congress needed to grant the necessary authority, and indecision prevailed. Michigan did pass the necessary legislation, as they are still pending with indecision.

From progress to-date the writer feels that our present U.S. Congress representative is concerned with all the people and the problems within his district. The remainder of the U.S. Congress continues to doze while the Asian Carp continue to practice jumping above water to learn how high they need to get to clear the electric barrier.

Robert E. Schmeling




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