Vessels return to the Great Lakes to do fisheries research

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently announced that all four of its fisheries research vessels are back on the water, beginning their annual surveys of Great Lakes fish populations.

Surveys conducted by these Great Lakes research vessels are designed to examine and collect information on all aspects of the state’s Great Lakes fish community. This information is essential in supporting the DNR’s mission to conserve, protect and manage the billion-dollar Great Lakes fishery resource for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations. These surveys also continue assessment and evaluation work begun in the 1960s.

“These fisheries research vessels are based in Marquette, Alpena, Charlevoix and Harrison Township and work throughout the Great Lakes on a wide variety of assessments and evaluations,” said Gary Whelan, DNR Fisheries Division research manager. “Operations start as soon as ice has cleared from the lakes and continue well into November.”

Fisheries assessment and evaluation work on Lake Superior is conducted by the research vessel (R/V) Lake Char, which is the DNR’s newest vessel, launched in 2007. The R/V Lake Char focuses efforts on Lake Superior’s self-sustaining lake trout populations. Information collected by this vessel is used to generate annual lake trout harvest quotas to ensure the continued health of these fish populations and on lake trout sea lamprey wounding rates, a key mortality factor for this species. The latter effort helps to guide sea lamprey control work by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Throughout the summer, DNR vessels are visible residents of Great Lakes ports. The public is encouraged to visit the vessels and talk with the crews about fisheries assessment operations.