Native Species Rehabilitation and ConservationThis 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, lake whitefish and lake herring, as well as the interaction of these species within the overall lake fish communities. Working in cooperation and coordination with state, tribal, other federal partners, and many academic institutions and non-government organizations, we implement a suite of coordinated activities that address Fish Community Goals and Objectives for Lake Michigan, several species specific fishery management and rehabilitation plans, and research projects 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, species and habitat protection and restoration initiatives, and standardized fishery dependent and independent surveys for lake trout, lake sturgeon, whitefish, lake herring, and other important predator and forage fish stocks to evaluate annual recruitment and success of lake wide restoration, rehabilitation and conservation efforts.
Mass Marking of Great Lakes Stocked Trout and Salmon
“Mass marking” is a term that refers to tagging, fin-clipping, or both simultaneously all fish stocked into a lake in order to measure their performance when they are recaptured. The Great Lakes Fish Tag and Recovery Laboratory at the Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office delivers fish 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. This coordinated effort provides greater insight into: the survival, movement, and fishery contribution of stocked fish; levels of natural reproduction of non-native salmon; the progress toward lake trout restoration through natural reproduction of fish stocked by the Service; the ability to manage harvest away from wild lake trout; and the opportunity to evaluate and improve hatchery operations. The Great Lakes Fish Tag and Recovery Laboratory was established in 2010 at the request of the Council of Lake Committees, Great Lakes Fishery Commission to develop a basin-wide program to tag or mark all trout and salmon stocked into the Great Lakes. It is currently funded by the president’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 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 for the 1836 Treaty waters. 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 development of fish population models using the assessment data to annually determine safe harvest limits for lake trout and lake whitefish for 26 management units in Treaty waters.
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 Landscape Conservation Cooperative, 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. From 2006 to 2016, our office has completed over 35 projects that have opened up over 1,232 miles to fish and aquatic organism passage in the Lake Michigan watershed.
Invasive Species Monitoring and Surveillance Program for Lake Michigan
Aquatic invasive species have the ability to alter and degrade native ecosystems by adversely affecting native fish and benthic macroinvertebrate communities. The Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office Aquatic Invasive Species Program strives to work with others to conserve and protect native aquatic fauna, such as fish and benthic macroinvertebrates, from harmful invasive species in Lake Michigan. We achieve this goal through an adaptive management approach so that current and future generations can enjoy the diverse and unique ecosystem. Through community and invasive species monitoring and educating the public about invasive species, we aim for the prevention and early detection of and rapid response to aquatic invasive species introductions. Area “hotspots” are sampled based on a combination of different vectors for colonization such as ballast water release, bait bucket release, or connectivity to other waterbodies, to name a few. Detecting a new invader early is critical in mitigating its potential impact on the ecosystem. In addition to monitoring for new invasive species, we are continuing to further develop our rapid response protocols to ensure the appropriate actions are taken when a new species is detected.