Managing Chinook Salmon in Lake Huron

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources plans to reduce Chinook salmon stocking in Lake Huron by more than half in 2012, compared to 2011 levels. The DNR plans to stock 693,000 spring Chinook fingerlings in 2012, down from almost 1.5 million stocked in 2011, because of poor return and harvest of stocked Chinooks.

"Recreational harvest of Chinook salmon has virtually vanished in the southern two-thirds of Lake Huron," said acting DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. "It's obvious the forage base is no longer available to support large numbers of Chinooks in Lake Huron."

Analysis of recreational catch data shows only the northern portion of Lake Huron ? where there is significant Canadian natural reproduction of Chinook salmon -- continues to produce a viable recreational fishery.

Michigan will continue to stock Chinook salmon at Nunns Creek, Cheboygan River and Swan River in the northern Lake Huron watershed. All three stocking sites are within the boundaries of the 2000 Consent Decree with Tribes in the 1836 Treaty area. The DNR consulted with the Chippewa-Ottawa Resource Authority, the Lake Huron Citizen Fishery Advisory Committee, Ontario fisheries officials, and held three public meetings in the Lake Huron Basin before reaching this decision.

Reduced Chinook salmon stocking is likely to continue for the immediate future.

"Angler harvest of stocked Chinook salmon has been at record low levels for the past few years. Poor returns of stocked fish and a collapse of prey fish populations throughout Lake Huron were key factors in the decision to suspend Chinook salmon plants in the southern two-thirds of Lake Huron," said Todd Grischke, the DNR's Lake Huron Basin coordinator. "We will continue to monitor biological data for the next six years and will make interim stocking adjustments as necessary."

The DNR has committed to mass marking all Chinooks stocked in Lake Huron during the next three years to help biologists better understand the contributions of natural reproduction to the fishery.

Chinook Salmon Stocking Reductions in Lake Huron
(NOTE: on page three of this memo, the Cheboygan site should be listed at 67,000 for 2012 and later, not 68,000.)

Managing Chinook Salmon in Lake Huron Current Findings and Proposed Management Options July 2011

Executive Summary

Additional Information

Chinoook Stockings in Lake Huron

Location 2011 Target Net Pen 2012 and Later % Reduction
Nunns Creek 250,000 N 250,000 0
St. Ignace 40,000 N 0 100
Cheboygan 67,000 Y 67,000 0
Swan River 472,000 N 375,000 21
Mill Creek Pond (Harrisville) 111,000 Y 0 100
Van Etten River 223,000 Y 0 100
Tawas 27,000 N 0 100
Port Austin 72,000 N 0 100
Harbor Beach 80,000 Y 0 100
Harbor Beach 80,000 N 0 100
Port Sanilac 36,000 N 0 100
Lexington 36,000 N 0 100
Total 1,494,000   693,000