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Original article URL: http://bridgemi.com/2014/02/michigans-toxic-fish-face-long-recovery-state-finds/

Quality of life

Michigan’s toxic fish face long recovery, state finds

Water quality has improved in most Michigan lakes and rivers since Congress approved the federal Clean Water Act in 1972. But there remains a vexing, insidious pollution problem that could take 50 years to resolve.

Mercury and toxic PCBs emitted into the atmosphere from sources around the world rain down on Michigan’s lakes and rivers, contaminating fish and posing health threats to people who eat too much tainted fish.

It’s a problem Michigan cannot solve on its own.

The reason: 75 percent of the mercury and 55 percent of the PCBs that fall out of the sky and into the Michigan waters come from outside the state. Each year, about 6,000 pounds of mercury ride the wind into Michigan, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates.

For the first time, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has drafted plans for reducing PCBs and mercury in fish and surface waters to safe levels. But preliminary documents obtained by Bridge paint a sobering picture of the daunting task at hand.

Coal-fired power plants account for nearly half of all mercury emissions in Michigan. (courtesy photo)

Coal-fired power plants account for nearly half of all mercury emissions in Michigan. (courtesy photo)

Reducing PCBs and mercury in Michigan fish to safe concentrations will require cutting global PCB emissions by 94 percent, and global mercury emissions 82 percent, according to the state’s draft cleanup plans, known as Total Maximum Daily Limits (TMDLs) for PCBs and mercury. Getting there will take about 50 years for PCBs, possibly longer for mercury, according to state officials.

“This is a global problem,” said Sylvia Heaton, a DEQ aquatic biologist specialist who coordinates state efforts to meet water quality standards. “We have to reduce sources of PCBs and mercury in Michigan, other states and internationally. It will take a long time to do that.”

PCBs, which were banned in the U.S. in 1979, are a group of chemicals that were used as coolants in transformers, and in carbonless copy paper. The chemicals are suspected carcinogens and are known to affect the nervous, immune and reproductive systems in humans. PCBs can be largely removed from fish by stripping away fatty tissue.

Most mercury in the environment is a byproduct of burning coal to make electricity and steel, and from treating wastewater. Mercury can cause neurological damage and other health problems in humans. Mercury pollution in fish can be particularly troublesome because the compound settles in the muscle tissue of fish, making it impossible to strip away the contaminant.

Michigan and several surrounding states have long had advisories urging people to limit their consumption of fish from mercury-polluted waters. Michigan has a statewide mercury fish consumption advisory.

Graphic2- Michigan lakes and rivers impaired by mercury contamination in fish

That advisory may be here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Mercury keeps flowing

Power plants, factories and other sources of mercury continue to discharge the compound into the air and water – in Michigan, across the U.S. and around the world.

Michigan businesses and cities discharged 6,569 pounds of mercury into the air in 2005, according to the most recent government data. Coal-fired power plants accounted for 47 percent of those emissions, according to DEQ reports.

Environmentalists have repeatedly criticized utilities that operate the state’s coal-fired power plants, particularly DTE Energy, for spewing mercury into the air.

Randi Berris, a spokesperson for DTE Energy, said the utility has spent $2 billion in recent years installing better air pollution control equipment at its coal-fired power plants. She said the utility decreased mercury emissions 35 percent between 2007 and 2012.

“False and misleading claims about DTE’s emissions progress paint an inaccurate picture about the significant measures the company has taken to improve air quality,” Berris said. “Air quality in Michigan is better today than it has been in the last 40 years, due in large part to emissions reductions by DTE Energy and other Michigan utilities.

Graphic3- Michigan lakes and rivers impaired by PCB contamination in fish

Berris said utilities alone cannot solve Michigan’s mercury problem. “Even if all of the coal-fired power plants in Michigan stopped operating tomorrow, it would make no impact on the TMDL; global mercury emissions will still exist as it is truly a worldwide issue,” she said.

State data show that most of the mercury discharged into the skies above Michigan drifts to neighboring states and Canada; some enters the mass of airborne mercury that circles the planet.

Not all mercury that’s emitted into the environment ends up in fish – only that portion that becomes methyl-mercury. But any mercury in water is a concern because it accumulates as it moves up the food chain.

The amount of mercury in a fish can be one million times higher than concentrations in the water, according to government data.

Joel Blum, a professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Michigan, said it’s impossible to predict how long it could take to reduce mercury to levels that would make all Michigan fish safe to eat.

“It’s fair to say it’s going to be a long time,” he said.

Michigan’s new mercury standard requires coal-fired power plants to cut mercury emissions by 90 percent by 2015. State officials have said loopholes in that requirement could reduce actual emissions by something closer to 75 percent.

New federal regulations require coal-fired power plants nationwide to reduce air emissions of mercury by 90 percent by 2016. The regulations are currently being challenged in federal court.

Blum said a number of mercury reduction initiatives are either in place or are being developed on a global scale. He said reducing mercury emissions in Michigan would improve air quality locally and globally.

“There are mercury hotspots around the state, downwind of mercury sources, that need to be addressed,” Blum said. “People in large cities are subjected to higher levels of mercury, so it’s a social justice issue.”

PCB levels going down

Although mercury and PCBs contaminate fish in most Michigan lakes and thousands of miles of rivers, there are glimmers of hope. Concentrations of PCBs have trended downward since 1990, according to state data.

PCB concentrations in the air and fish tissue decreased across Michigan from 1990-2007, according to the most recent available state data.

During that time, PCB concentrations in carp decreased in the River Raisin and the Muskegon, Grand, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph rivers. PCB also decreased in fish taken from Lake Gogebic, Houghton Lake and Higgins Lake, according to state data.

Mercury trends have been more complicated.

Mercury emissions in the U.S. dropped by 75 percent between 2000 and 2008, but there hasn’t been a corresponding reduction of mercury in Michigan fish. Average mercury concentrations in fish showed “minimal” decline from 1990-2007, according to the DEQ report.

State officials have made some progress over the past two decades in getting mercury out of the environment. From 1994-2007, state and private sector programs kept more than 32,000 pounds of mercury out of the environment, according to DEQ data.

The Legislature also has passed several laws in recent years banning mercury in medical devices, school equipment and consumer goods. A 2012 law banned open burning of any trash containing mercury (plastic, rubber, foam, chemically treated wood, textiles, electronics and hazardous waste).

“We have a very robust program to reduce mercury” in the air, water and consumer products, the DEQ’s Heaton said.

But the state also allows 139 facilities to discharge mercury into the environment. In 2012, these facilities collectively discharged 1,924 pounds of mercury into the air and 86 pounds into the water, according to government data.

James Clift, policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council, said mercury emissions will be a key issue this year as interest groups debate Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to implement a “no regrets” energy plan by 2025.

The governor in December called for policies that make energy in Michigan more affordable, reliable and more environmentally friendly.

“From a Michigan perspective, we need to show that we’ve done everything we can to reduce mercury emissions,” Clift said.

Jeff Alexander is owner of J. Alexander Communications LLC and the author of "Pandora's Locks: The Opening of the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Seaway." A former staff writer for the Muskegon Chronicle, Alexander writes a blog on the Great Lakes.

24 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. Tom Matych

    There are several studies where salmon are increasing both PCB and Mercury levels in the streams where they spawn many fold. The Mercury is in concentrated form according to experts, thus transfering it to the near shore fish populations that most people fish for. Some salmon spawning rivers with no other source of PCB 75 fold increase in PCB. All fish have some only salmon die by the thousands in one spot. One biologist called them one way mercury transfer vehicles. Perhaps salmon should be netted out at spawn to remove the mercury from the system? Die anyway. Why are we trying to clean up pcb/mercury when the salmon go out and collect it, only to dump it right in our laps?

    1. Doug Niergarth

      Good points Tom, Do you have a reference link to studies or papers?

  2. VOR

    Thank you for this informative article. It does appear that even the States must engage on an International level, to protect our lakes, rivers, fish, and people!

    Mr. Matych, the issue is not so simple as removing organisms like Salmon. For one thing, human beings themselves also concentrate mercury. All bioaccumulative organisms, including birds and even cows are sources too. As the article suggests, mercury can circle the planet for more than 6 years, before it falls out through precipitation… And virtually all northern areas seem to accumulate it worse, due to the tendency for many contaminants to exist longer in the cold and clear waters and to fall out at the cooler, northern lattitudes. Check out the book, “Cold, Clear, and Deadly” for an interesting look, from a former Michigan Chemist. Seals and other organisms in the Inuit regions of Canada have dangerous levels of mercury. Killing a link in the food chain doesn’t seem to be the answer.

  3. Mary Ellen Fritsch

    Hello Bridge,
    Any way to get the maps clearer? The details are important.

  4. Scoop

    Tom M. is bent on making salmon sound as poisonous as possible in his lifelong goal of getting yellow perch stocked into Lake Michigan. PCBs have been banned since ’79. Jeff Alexander, you didn’t do a good job of reporting on how PCBs are still getting here …. you implied they’re “dropping out of the sky” and “emissions will need to be cut by 94 percent” … they’ve been banned for 35 years. How are they coming from the sky?

    In Wisconsin, PCB levels have dropped so much that only the largest, fattest and oldest lake trout are on the state Division of Health’s “do not eat” list. In fact, all but the largest salmon from egg-collection sites in Wisconsin are donated to food pantries, and in Michigan, they’re even sold by contract and can be purchased by fish-eaters.

    75 fold increase in PCBs? Calling your bluff Tom M.

    1. mark lunden

      Scoop makes a good point. The writer does a poor job of explaining how exactly PCBs are still “falling from the sky” if they’ve been banned for 35 years. Is he trying to say that somewhere else on the globe PCBs are getting brought to Michigan? How so?

      I think the reporting is either confused or wrong. The fact is PCBs are legacy pollutants from prior industry and they’ve contaminated sediment, and fish, to great extent, requiring many millions to fix.

      How exactly PCBs are still entering Lake Michigan, let alone any other Great Lake, is beyond me, and certainly requires a response from the writer or someone who knows.

      1. Glen E. Witt

        Read “The Late Great Lakes”, to get a history of industrial Grt. Lks pollutants. They include the Johnson outboard motor company Green Bay, Wi.) and the copper mining of the Keewanaw pennisula in Mich.

  5. Tom Matych

    Doug I just googled salmon increase mercury in spawning streams, lots of stuff. “Bioaccumaltion and transport of contaminants: sockeye salmon as vectors of Mercury” 1 kg/year methylmercury in Bristol bay. Saricia 2004 found lake Ontario streams with high salomoid spawner densities increases up to 25-fold in mercury levels. For scoopy Great lakes salmon polluting Michigans stream fish Jeff Brook Gillies “60 times more contaminated with pcbs than those in a nearby salmon-free stream” I believe this was in the Great lakes echo scoopy. I saw 75 somewhere, but I’ll take 60, not worth hunting down. Salmon are in the top 3 PCB retention with carp, and catfish. Thousand of fish dying in one spot will deposit whatever they got. Mr Vor, salmon are not a link in the food chain, they’re here but they disrupt the natural food chain by requiring the alewives be the dominant fish, alewives eat the zooplankton all fish need, and native larval fish. Perch retain the least amount of pcb of any fish, low fat content. All fish have mercury, but only salmon are dumping it in “concentrated form” in the streams and near shore fishery thus increasing the pollution in native fish most people fish for and eat. There have been statements that X amount of PCB or Mercury have been removed from the system by carp tournaments. Now we could start netting out common carp, invasive white perch which are increasing, thus remove “concentrated’ mercury from the system. Salmon increase pcb and mercury levels how many “fold” is determined by how many die in one spot, any increase is a bad thing. We have many options, however the top priority is to save the alewives and keep them the dominant fish in Lake Michigan and connecting waters. Mercury and pcb is just one of many things we have to look the other way with salmon. We have to sacrifice the entire natural ecosystem for one fish (chinook) that only eats alewives. Alewives protected all invasives protected (from too many native predators) this includes asian carp. It’s simple really. Which cold water species would be the best predator to use in the warmwater areas where baby asian carp will be? As obvious as that answer is, it is also the answer why we have a warmwater invasive species problem (180 some) that don’t seem to have a problem crossing over into cold water. But coldwater species (non-native) can’t survive warmwater only long enough to dump mercury in our rivers. Just cleaning things up, only makes it nicer for the invasive pollution that seem to be increasing quite well, no restrictions. We can clean up both all we have to do is not care what happens to the alewives an invasive species! Simple!

  6. Scoop

    “Which cold water species would be the best predator to use in the warmwater areas where baby asian carp will be?”

    Tom, how did Asian carp, in a Mississippi River system absolutely packed with predators — perch, crappie, bluegill, catfish, bowfin, walleye, pike, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and many more — stand a chance? You’re living in a dream world if you think perch or “all of the above” will be able to stop Asian carp if they get a foothold. How’d that work for round gobies? Great Lakes bays absolutely chuck full of all of the above plus brown trout, whitefish and Great Lakes muskies and yet gobies are everywhere.

    As for the PCB “60x” study, here are some excerpts from that:

    “The research has not yet been published or peer-reviewed, said David Janetski, post doctoral researcher with Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources Institute and lead scientist on the project.”

    and this …

    “The most extreme case showed fish in Pine Creek, a Manistee River tributary with a heavy salmon run, were 60-times more contaminated with PCBs than those in a nearby salmon-free stream.

    It’s alarming because the PCB concentration they found in the sample fish, which included brook trout, were potentially high enough to earn them a spot on the state’s list of fish consumption advisories—a list stream fish rarely make.”

    and finally, this:

    “The method Janetski used to measure contaminants differs slightly from the state’s method when issuing advisories on eating fish, so it’s not immediately clear whether these trout would qualify for a warning or how strict it would be.”

    OK, so his work was not peer-reviewed, not published and he used a different method to measure contaminants when issuing advisories on eating fish (what did he do, grind up the whole carcass?), and we should see this as a major problem?

    Once again, Tom, since you apparently missed this the first time: the largest, oldest and fattest lake trout in Lake Michigan are the only species on Wisconsin’s “do not eat” list for PCBs; and, the salmon in both WI and MI from spawning runs are either given to food pantries (WI) or sold under contract for human consumption (MI) because their fillets have tested low enough in PCBs to allow them to be given away or sold.

    Salmon, trout and steelhead draw anglers from across the nation (and even from other countries) to the Great Lakes. Perch are already available in hundreds of inland lakes as well as many Great Lakes bays, harbors and drowned river mouths and connected lakes. They certainly have their fans, but they don’t fill hotel rooms, bars and restaurants, bait and tackle shops or gift shops and grocery stores. You will never see a return of huge numbers of perch in a forever-changed Lake Michigan system as long as the quaggas rule the roost. Water clarity (ease of predation) and lack of food while perch fry drift helplessly in currents are just two of the reasons. Green Bay, Lake Michigan’s largest bay, has had record and near-record hatches of yellow perch in the past 15 years and still hasn’t been able to see the kind of action that allowed 50-fish daily sport bag limits and huge commercial catches roughly 25 years ago. The daily bag is 15, and the commercial fishery has been strictly limited for many years. There’s even a closed season for two months during spawning, which they never had or needed decades ago. The whole ecosystem has changed due to the quaggas influence. There are also abundant cormorants and world-class numbers of walleyes and smallmouth bass, giant Great Lakes strain muskies and many other perch eaters easily targeted in today’s gin-clear waters.

  7. Tom Matych

    My goodness. alright, we have mercury in the waters, 6,000 pounds a year it says plus PCB. Thus mercury is increasing per year. In salmon spawning areas, it’s increasing many times faster than other areas, because it has to be. Only salmon all die in one spot in large numbers, unless you count thousands of alewives dying on the beach. Thus whatever pollution they carry is dumped in said spots. How much is controlled by how many salmon die. Even if you stopped mercury pollution today, the alewife and salmon would continue to collect the mercury/pcb and deliver it to the spawning streams/near shore areas, some many many miles inland, until the mercury or the salmon were gone, many years it would seem. The alewife dominant/ chinook plan, is an artificial food chain that’s dependant on bypassing/restricting even eliminating the natural food chain or the native diversity of the natural resource (native fish). A multitude of sins could be fixed by getting rid of the alewife and salmon, increased/maginfied mercury/pcb loading of the salmon spawning streams is just one but a big one. Do you want to say there ain’t no mercury problem? Can’t see it, smell it or taste it? They’re just making this up for study money? Yep lake trout have a lot of PCB, but they don’t all die in one spot, and they told us about salmon pcb levels in the 70’s. Even if salmon had a little mercury thousands dying in one spot makes it a lot! Dumped every year, on top of “normal” levels, or airborne pollution. Scoopy I know it seems you can’t live without getting your attaboy fix from catching a salmon, no other fish will do only salmon for you. You would continue to intentionally destroy the natural ecosystem, poison our kids and grandkids with mercury to “get your attaboy salmon fix” to hell with everyone else. The lake has to win this fight, not the salmon guys or any other special interest “group”. The common good is supposed to come first, not the salmon, that don’t belong here!

  8. Scoop

    Tom, as you know from the many other boards I’ve had to counter your misinformation campaign on, I’m not a charter captain and fish for more than a dozen species, including yellow perch. Nothing fights like a king, and the high-omega, high-protein meals they provide are awesome grilled, baked, pan-fried, broiled, smoked, boiled or planked over an open fire! You conveniently ignore the incredible number of predators in the Mississippi River system as being unable to stop Asian carp; the same with incredible, world-class numbers of walleyes, smallmouth bass, pike, muskies, perch and more on Green Bay that can’t keep up with round gobies. In your quest to stock Lake Michigan with perch, you try to stomp on one of the greatest economic impacts to lakeshore communities. Fortunately, wiser minds aren’t buying it. If it were only that easy.

  9. Tom Matych

    Sorry Scoopy, there is no incredible numbers of native fish as you say. Both alewives and salmon couldn’t survive in a healthy native fish population. Besides the plan calls for alewife dominant, and they eat same zooplankton as asian carp. According to the DEQ it costs$5.7 billion a year to “fight” invasive species in the great lakes, $137 billion nationwide. Since keeping the salmon means sacrificing the entire natural ecosystem (including increasing mercury and pcb levels in spawning areas) the salmon have no value. Towns will not “dry up and blow away” without salmon. Keeping the salmon is like one guy on an engine assembly line pouring sand in the crankcase to get overtime on saturday, screws up the whole system, makes all other efforts moot and expensive. Lets see in 1985 Michigan charter boats had 239,000 clients,they spent est$21. million bucks. (from the new steelheader mag 2014) Now that was 29 years ago and they keep using that example. This is 2014 last I looked, and even at 1985 levels it would take a whole bunch of fisherman to get that $21. million up to ONE billion let alone the “billions” they say the salmon are worth. 2012 charter levels are 25% of that a 75% decrease in salmon fishing. Now also add the billions of invasive species that are thriving since 1985 and mostly ignored because the lake has to be invasive species safe for the alewives. Please tell all these nice people it’s ok to kill all our lakes for one fish! (they’re spreading inland) To create public health risks for one fish! Given the facts there is no logical reason to not restore the native fish population, makes no sense to restore alewives. Never will.

  10. Scoop

    Tom, the biggest eaters of the bottom of the food chain are quagga mussels, bar none. Good luck stopping them. They’ve forever changed the face of the ecosystem. Remember the aquamarine water of the “good old days” of perch fishing in Lake Michigan? Crazy-thick with food for perch, and easy for them to hide. Today’s clear water means little to eat, and nowhere for perch fry to hide.

    There are incredible numbers of native fish in Lake Michigan’s bays and harbors, including smallmouth bass, northern pike, yellow perch, whitefish, largemouth bass, catfish, walleyes, burbot, bowfin and more. You simply choose to ignore that Green Bay’s world-class sport fishery draws anglers from across the country. There are national bass and walleye tournaments held on the very same waters that produce amazing whitefish action in winter and trout and salmon in summer, plus Great Lakes strain muskies spring through fall (and all the other species). More than 10,000 anglers on the ice of Green Bay, from the city to Marinette and across to Door County, all enjoying native species fishing. In summer, it’s a mix of guys after natives and hundreds of others seeking salmon and trout from Oconto to Marinette across to Washington Island and Gills Rock. On the lake side, the biggest summer salmon fishing contest in the Great Lakes attracts 2,700 anglers annually all trying for trophy chinooks. Though 33 states and a number of countries have been represented in the past five years, it’s mainly anglers from across the Midwest towing their own boats. The reason there are fewer charter boats in SOME ports (certainly not all) is because many anglers got so hooked on the fishery they bought their own rig and outfitted it so they could fish salmon, trout and steelhead any time they wanted.

    Take a minute to think about what each of those 2,700 anglers likely spends in and around a Lake Michigan port each summer. That’s just ONE salmon tournament. Let’s say they each spend $500 in gas, lodging, bait, food and groceries (definitely on the low end, but let’s start somewhere). That’s $1.3 million just for that single salmon fishing tournament. There are dozens of tournaments held around Lake Michigan. And tournaments are small potatoes compared to regular fishing and charter fishing. On a nice day, you can see 100 or more boats at every single port. Multiply that times dozens of ports and 2-6 anglers per boat, and you’ll begin to see the economic impact of the salmon fishing machine. Some of the biggest charter operators run 5-10 boats and often run twice a day spring through early fall, with four to six anglers per boat. Do the math.

    At the same time, and even with world-class walleye, bass and muskie fishing on Green Bay, there are only dozens of guides off Brown, Door, Oconto and Marinette counties, and many are happy to run 100 trips in a season (quite a few are actually busier in winter than the warm water months!). In other words, more folks pay to fish for the salmon, trout and steelhead than they do for walleyes, bass, muskies, pike and perch — by far — even though it’s some terrific action for the natives and even though the cost is cheaper to do a Green Bay “native” guided trip vs. a Lake Michigan salmon fishing trip. Why? Because NOTHING in the Great Lakes is as thrilling as tying into a chinook that smokes line off your reel or watching a heavy steelhead clear water once, twice, no six times, several feet each time! It’s an amazing fishery with catch rates BETTER than the West Coast states of Oregon and Washington where our salmon came from in the 1960s.

    Perch? I love ‘em too. But they’re available in many inland lakes as well as the bays and harbors. The mussel-cleared water today makes ‘em a lot harder to consistently catch in the Great Lakes. And they won’t threaten to break your line, give you a sore forearm or make you strain to lift your cooler. Many folks who come here to fish from Minnesota and Canada laugh at how we love our perch. A lot of them throw them back! They come here to fish our salmon.

    Lastly, invasive species “mostly ignored”? You’re really reaching Tom. You know as well as I that we’re powerless in the battle against quaggas that cover the lake bottom from one end to the other.

    Ask businesses and charter captains on Lake Huron where “natives are staging a comeback” how great the salmon crash was for them. They’ve lost the bulk of their visiting anglers, and unless the salmon return with more consistency, most of them won’t be back, either.

  11. Tom Matych

    Scoopy enough, the salmon have no value, they’re a curse, protected by lies and half truths. The top asian carp expert says we can control asian carp with predators. Real biologists say we can control zebra/quagga mussels with predators. Zebra quaggas are the very worst at avoiding predators, how they gonna run? The results of the last 25 years of mismanagement of our resource are in the lakes. Overrun with invasive species salmon wont eat, mercury/pcb levels increasing near shore and salmon spawning grounds thanks to said salmon. All becauselake trout don’t fight hard enough? Actually Scoopy the last meeting regarding Huron they like the “new/old” fishery, low chinook but plenty of walleye perch to fill in the gap. I have a friend with a radio show, he’s been asking people he interviews including public servants if they know what alewives eat? Not one so far knows what alewives eat, most don’t. You guys say alewives are just prey, failing to mention they eat zooplankton just like asian carp and native larval fish. you say your not DNR or a charter Hell, don’t know who or what you are. The clear water means we should stock perch and walleye to get them past being eaten by alewives and thier friends from out of town. Went ice fishing the other day, in a spot I usta catch lots of Perch, had my underwater camera, never saw a fish except 6-8 suckers swam by. Hardly the incredible numbers you speak of. I’ve had an underwater camera since they came out, I know what’s down there not much! Lose the salmon or lose the lakes, pretty simple. We’re losing them now doing it your way, if you haven’t noticed! Oh Riiiight nothing we can do, brilliant.

  12. Wm Boyd

    Tom,
    I’ve seen your comments in the local paper, and above and I agree with you mostly.
    However, regarding the Asian Carp problem you are publishing misleading information – the top Asian Carp experts do NOT say we can control this invasion with predators. There are certainly no significant predators once the Carp become established – this is part of the definition of “invasive species”, since there is no link in the predator/prey chain.
    Although nothing is certain, the best hope we have to keep the Silver and Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes is to completely break the connection between waterways. In fact, the recent GLMRIS report makes this conclusion as well. Unfortunately we keep waiting to do something.

  13. Tom Matych

    Mr. Boyd, Thanks for agreeing mostly. However I am not publishing misleading information. D. Chapman is our top Asian Carp expert. In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Nov./12/2013 Biologists begin searching sturgeon Bay for Asian Carp evidence: “The small carp could fall victim to predation and get wiped out in big numbers. That could keep Asian carp Numkbers in check” Oct 10 2013 Asian Carp can be controlled, expert says ECM ” Healthy Game Fish Populations are considered one means of controlling Asian Carp” agian Chapman. All eggs fry juvenile fish have predators, no spines perfect prey look like shad, perch and walleye already eat shad, they wont ask first if they’re from China because because Chinese food gives them gas, they’ll just eat em! They need to be abundant to be effective. Perch and walleye have adapted to the new food from out of town, salmon have not. Yes I agree that keeping them out in the first place is always best. I also agree we should plug the Chicago river, but it wont stop the carp from getting in. Schools of fish have been swimming thru the whole time. it’s foolish to think none were AC (they have no evidence that they were carp) 90% Asian Carp but only the “other fish” swam thru? Google “biotic resistance” you’ll see even the mussels can be controlled by predators, just not salmon. You may also want to check the Asian Carp spread USGS, map then say plugging one hole is going to keep them out. Having our so called dominant predator be a coldwater fish (salmon) that only eats one invasive fish out of 180 some invasive species is the root cause of our current massive invasive species problem, and they are dumping pollution in our laps. Alewives have been keeping native fish populations in check for over 50 years by eating the eggs fry larval stages and hogging zooplankton. Plug the Chicago river please, Illinois is gearing up to keep them permanently, (carp jobs) restoring native fish/predators does not interfere with barriers or any other plan. It does threaten the alewives, they will eat them as well, wipe them out, Scoopy knows this thus you get the “salmon are to big to fail” show. The lakes too big to fail, not salmon he can fish for somthing else!

  14. Scoop

    Tom, just the fact that you post “the salmon have no value, they’re a curse” shows how little you know about how huge an impact and a draw they are to Lake Michigan anglers.

    As for zebras, they’re 99+ percent GONE, replaced by quaggas that cover the lake from one end to the other. Check out the Ludington fisheries workshop links for more on that if you need to. NO PREDATOR will ever be able to eat all the quaggas. In fact, MOST quaggas are at depths NO PREDATOR even ranges, esp. the perch and walleye you love.

    No perch on camera, huh? Sounds like Muskegon Lake has been very good, even a record white perch this busy winter. Here’s a report of 50-fish limits from December: http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2013/12/fishing_report_perch_being_cau.html. Maybe your camera isn’t working, or you’re looking in the wrong spots. You may consider hiring a guide if needed to cut the learning curve.

    Mr. Boyd, you are correct, no amount of predators can stop an invasion of exotics, whether it be mussels, gobies or Asian carp. The Mississippi River was jam-packed with predators like largemouth and smallmouth bass, rock bass, catfish, northern pike, walleyes and so many more, but that wasn’t enough to stop the carp. Never will be. Same with Great Lakes bays packed with walleyes, pike, smallmouths and other predators. The gobies are far too prolific, and stealthy.

    Tom implies that all I care about is salmon. Not true. I absolutely love catching yellow perch, walleyes, bass, bluegills, crappies and many other species, too.. But nothing yanks on the rod or fills the cooler better than chinooks, steelhead and brown trout. An amazing, world-class fishery that lures anglers from across the country to Lake Michigan.

  15. Scoop

    Tom, just Googled your Chapman expert. Here’s the real controls Chapman talked about (even these are no better than the pipe dream of “healthy game fish populations” of which the Mississippi certainly had:

    • Carp-killing chemical “toxicants” in forms that are uniquely suited to the filter-feeding varieties and relatively harmless to other fish.

    • Pheromone attractants to lure carp toward control locations or away from protected zones.

    • Improving the carp-blocking capabilities of existing Mississippi River dams, which Chapman said have actually proved quite effective in slowing the invaders’ upstream migration.

  16. Tom Matych

    Zebras gone because another predator/competitor took control? Uh Huh. Predators don’t work? Since 1985 the alewife dominant/protected plan (thier/your way) has cost billions of dollars and the lake is overrun with invasive species, costing $5.7 billion dollars a year. Invasive white perch are a bad thing, record size invasive species not a good thing. Some were catching limits of perch, not all, not most. My son in law had perch in the freezer first time in 7 years, last trip out he caught 2. “slowing” asian carp is not controlling asian carp. Pipe Dream? You must be French, ain’t that where all the surrender monkeys come from? We have an invasive species problem, alewives are an invasive species, they eat like baby asian carp. If alewives aren’t threatened no invasive species is threatened. Alewives are passing mercury/PCB up the food chain. The results are in the lake!

  17. Scoop

    Yes, Tom, zebras are gone because another far worse exotic took over …. quaggas. Game over.

  18. Tom Matych

    The point scoop’e is zebras are not invulnerable, neither are quagga’s. Increase predation to maximum on quagga’s then it’s game on!

  19. Scoop

    With? What is going to go down to the bottom in 100 feet of water, let alone 200, 300, 400, etc. feet, and eat trillions of prolific quaggas? Certainly not perch! The zebras weren’t eaten by a predator, they were displaced by a bigger and more prolific exotic, the quagga. Game over.

  20. Tom Matych

    The bulk are near shore, 80%-90% reduction?, all good. Keep them trapped in the middle of the lake where they can do little damage. Just no pleasing you.

  21. Tim

    I read this thread and what I gleamed from it is that all of you really are concerned about Lake Michigan and it’s health. This is good! However, despite what the fishing industries and all of the sport fisherman think, salmon are not stocked in the Great Lakes for them. They are stocked to regulate smelt and alewives!
    This is why charter boat captains log the stomach contents of the fish caught on their boats.

    And now with the introduction of quagga and zebra muscles, the Great Lakes are becoming sterile. Consequently , the ecosystem is unable to support the level of salmon stocking from years past.

    http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10364_52259_63282-297817–,00.html

    Think what you may, but things are going to change.

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