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Great Lakes research vessels collect valuable fish data

While at Great Lakes ports this summer or fall, you might see one of the DNR’s large fisheries research vessels conducting annual fish population surveys. The vessels are based out of Alpena, Charlevoix, Harrison Township and Marquette harbors.

“The staff on these vessels are working on a variety of studies to better understand Great Lakes fish communities, population sizes and habitats,” said Gary Whelan, DNR Fisheries Research Program manager. “Their work and the information produced are essential to supporting current and future fisheries management.”

The RV Tanner, launched in 2016, focuses on Lake Huron and the sunrise coast’s lake trout, walleye and forage fish populations. It also spends time in Saginaw Bay and the St. Marys River to evaluate fish communities.

The RV Channel Cat, in service since 1968, works on lakes St. Clair and Erie. This crew studies walleye, yellow perch and lake sturgeon in these waters that support some of the highest fishing activity in Michigan.

The RV Lake Char launched in 2007. It assesses the status of Lake Superior’s self-sustaining lake trout and whitefish populations, along with other members of the unique coldwater fish community found in that water.

The survey vessel Steelhead, on the water since 1967, focuses on yellow perch, whitefish, lake trout, chinook salmon and forage fish populations in Lake Michigan.”

When the vessels are in port, the public is encouraged to visit and talk with crew about their work. Learn more at Michigan.gov/FishResearch.

Questions? Contact Gary Whelan, 517-284-5830 or Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.