This core program of the Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office focuses on restoration, rehabilitation and conservation of important native fish populations in Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes, with emphasis on lake trout, lake sturgeon and lake whitefish. Working in cooperation and coordination with our state, tribal and other federal partners, we implement a suite of coordinated activities that address the 2000 Consent Decree for the 1836 Treaty waters, Fish Community Goals and Objectives for Lake Michigan and several species specific fishery management and rehabilitation plans jointly developed with our partners. Our work is coordinated through the Lake Michigan Committee and Lake Michigan Technical Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. Through these efforts, our office helps develop and implement lake wide stocking and supplementation programs and conducts regular standardized fishery dependent and independent surveys for lake trout, lake sturgeon, whitefish and other important fish stocks to evaluate success of lake wide restoration, rehabilitation and conservation efforts.
Mass Marking of Great Lakes Stocked Trout and Salmon
The Great Lakes Fish Tagging and Tag Recovery Laboratory at the Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office provides coded-wire tagging, tag recovery, and other science support services to state and tribal agencies that stock trout and salmon into the Great Lakes, as well as for the Service’s Midwest and Northeast Regions’ lake trout restoration programs. The Great Lakes mass marking program was established at the request of the Council of Lake Committees, Great Lakes Fishery Commission to develop a basin-wide program to tag or mark (fin clip) all (18-23 million) trout and salmon stocked into the Great Lakes. This coordinated effort among all jurisdictions will provide greater insight into the levels of natural reproduction of both native and non-native fish, the relative survival and contributions of stocked fish, the ability to manage harvest away from wild fish, and evaluation of hatchery operations. Pilot operations began in 2010. As of May 2012, the program has tagged and/or marked over 20 million lake trout and Chinook salmon at 14 different state and federal fish hatcheries. Learn More
Treaty Fisheries/2000 Consent Decree
The Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office plays a substantial role in the implementation of the terms of the 2000 Consent Decree. The Decree is a negotiated federal court order that specifies the fish management regime and allocation of fishery resources within the 1836 Treaty waters of lake Michigan, Huron and Superior among the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, the Bay Mills Indian Community, the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, and the State of Michigan. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the United States representative for the implementation of the Decree. Green Bay staff participates in and contributes to the assessment of fish stocks within the Treaty waters and the developing fish population models using the assessment data to annually determine safe harvest limits for lake trout and lake whitefish for 26 management units.
Fish Habitat Restoration
Healthy fish populations require healthy fish habitat. The Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office implements the National Fish Passage Program, the National Fish Habitat Partnership, and coordinates with the Partners for Fish and Wildlife and Coastal Program to restore quality fish habitat within the Lake Michigan basin. We restore instream, riparian, wetlands, coastal, lake and upland habitats benefiting native species. Projects include diverse restoration methods such as bank stabilization, cattle fencing, grass and tree planting, culvert replacement, bridge replacement, dam removal, fish ladders, road/stream crossing, barrier and dam inventories, fish passage models, monitoring and evaluation and habitat restoration. Partnerships are the key to successful implementation of all projects and we routinely partner with other federal, state and tribal agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations, watershed councils and local governments to leverage resources. In the past 10 years, our office has completed over 72 projects that have opened up over 1,000 miles to fish and aquatic organism passage in the Lake Michigan watershed.
The Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office conducts activities for the prevention, early detection, and rapid response planning of aquatic invasive species introductions. Target areas or “hotspots” are being sampled for new aquatic invasive species introductions, including Asian carp, and are based on the different types of vectors for colonization. These pathways and hotspots are constantly being refined using the most current scientific information. Detecting a new invader early is critical in trying to mitigate its potential impact. We are continuing to further develop our rapid response protocols to ensure the appropriate actions are taken when a new AIS is detected.