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Study looks at potential environmental effects of commercial fish farms in Great Lakes

Jun 25, 2015

A Cold Water Fisheries farm near Little Current, Ontario.
Credit Peter Payette / Interlochen Public Radio

If Michigan were to allow commercial fish farms in the Great Lakes, how would they affect the environment? That’s the question a state panel will consider beginning this week.

There are some fish farms in the lakes already, but they’re based in Canada.

Although at least a couple of people are interested, Michigan hasn’t allowed them yet.

“This issue does come around about every 10 years, but we’ve never done a complete and thorough assessment like we’re doing right now,” said Tammy Newcomb, a senior water policy advisor at the Department of Natural Resources.

“We would like to have some good insight to the issue before making any kind of rash decisions to move forward,” she added.

The panel was appointed by directors of the DNR, Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

It will look at the potential environmental impacts of commercial fish farming in the Great Lakes. Others will consider the potential legal and economic impacts.

The panel’s first meeting is this Thursday at 4 p.m. in Lansing.

Findings will be reported to the department directors this fall. Then the state will seek public feedback before making a final decision.

“People are concerned that they’ve missed something, and that the process is moving forward because this panel is convened,” Newcomb said. “Really this is just about showing some good deliberative thought prior to anything moving forward or not moving forward.”