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State, federal agencies partner to help restore populations of 3 fish species
Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:32
State, federal agencies partner to help restore populations of 3 fish species05/03/2012
ALGONAC — It takes a lot of help to rebuild a population.
Maybe that’s why 27 organizations from the United States and Canada are uniting to help several fish species in the Great Lakes.
Michigan Sea Grant, which has taken the lead in the partnership, is headed by Jennifer Read. She spoke Tuesday during a boat tour of a fish habitat restoration project in the Middle Channel of the St. Clair River.
The agencies are building an artificial fish spawning reef. “The partnership is a multi-agency group working on restoring fish habitat in the Erie-Huron corridor,” Read said.
Three species will be targeted: lake sturgeon, walleye and lake whitefish. Sturgeon, however, have the most to lose.
“Most areas only talk about sturgeon in the tens and hundreds — we talk about them in the thousands,” Jim Boase of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said. He added that is what makes the St. Clair River delta a prime candidate for population recovery efforts.
Paulette Duhaime of Algonac, co-vice chairwoman of the Binational Public Advisory Council for the St. Clair River, said the river, along with 41 other sites, was listed as an area of concern for pollution in 1982 by the federal government. It is on track to be removed from that list by 2014.
The various agencies are working together for a single goal.
“It’s great,” biologist Justin Chiotti of the wildlife service said. “There’s no way we could have accomplished this without the collaborative effort.”
The accomplishment was based on all agencies coming together and using their individual experiences for one effort. That’s what Andrew Hartz, Department of Environmental Quality district supervisor, said he saw when the group applied for permits needed for the project.
“They needed to tell us the details, like what it’s going to benefit,” Hartz said. “There was no objection at all.”
Boase said he expects the reef construction to be complete next week.Read said she thinks fish will start spawning at the reef by the next season after they have had time to find it.
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