Les Cheneaux Islands fish community survey

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources this week will survey the channels and embayments of the Les Cheneaux Islands, along the Lake Huron shoreline on the Upper Peninsula’s southeastern tip. Survey nets will be fished at sampling stations throughout the island chain to collect specimens representative of the overall fish community. The DNR has performed this survey every year since 1969; it is one of the longest continuous surveys in the Great Lakes.

“We’ll count each fish by species and weigh and measure them,” said Dave Fielder, DNR fisheries research biologist out of Alpena. “We’ll also collect spines from some species to allow us to age the fish.”

The data collected will be used to describe the health of the different fish populations and to compare to past years to determine trends.

The DNR is particularly interested in determining the status of the local yellow perch population through this survey. This population has been intensively managed, particularly in response to the corresponding management of cormorants. Cormorants have been managed to benefit the yellow perch fishery since 2004 in a joint effort between the DNR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services. Cormorant management was suspended by federal court action in 2016, and fish population monitoring will be important to documenting any changes to the fish community.

The fish community netting survey will take about one week to complete and will be conducted by staff from the DNR’s Alpena Fisheries Research Station using the R/V Tanner. Results will be made available to the public in a presentation in Cedarville in April 2018.