Input Wanted on Lake Michigan Plan

The Department of Natural Resources is asking anglers, commercial fishers and fish enthusiasts for input on the future of Lake Michigan.

Wisconsin's Lake Michigan fishery is guided by a 10-year plan. The current plan expires in 2013.

The agency is particularly interested in thoughts on how to keep sport and commercial fisheries strong in the face of ongoing and emerging changes to the lake.

Among the challenges:

 Less food at the base of the food web. In the past decade scientists have documented the proliferation of quagga mussels and at the same time dramatic reductions in primary production in the open waters of the lake. That means less food is available for bloater chubs and alewives.

The Wisconsin commercial fishery for whitefish is vital and healthy, but commercial harvests of yellow perch, bloater chubs and rainbow smelt are only a fraction of past levels.

Biologists in recent years have documented evidence of natural reproduction by lake trout after 60 years of stocking.

Some of the best chinook harvests have occurred in recent years, but some question the stability of that fishery in light of the collapse of alewives and chinook in Lake Huron.

The state's hatcheries remain in need of significant renovations.

Comments will be accepted electronically or by mail. The DNR will use input to help draft a proposed plan that will be presented to the public for comment later this year.

To provide comments on the Lake Michigan Integrated Fisheries Management Plan, email or write to:

William Horns, Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Fisheries Management, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707