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fish farming

Harrietta Hills Trout Farms co-owner Dan Vogler wants to produce up to 300,000 pounds of trout at the historic Grayling Fish Hatchery.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint, is proposing a ban on certain types of fish farming in the Great Lakes region.  

In Fenton today, Kildee said federal laws are needed to replace a patchwork of state laws in the region that are insufficient to regulate the aquaculture industry.    

“These fish farms create all sorts of pollution…and increase the likelihood of significant impact on habitat,” says Kildee.  

Here are Kildee’s two bills:

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

An administrative law judge has sided with a company called Harrietta Hills Trout Farm that's operating in Grayling. It produced nearly 69,000 pounds of rainbow trout last year.

The state granted a permit to the company in 2014. But some groups challenged that permit, and it ended up in court.

Last week, the judge issued a proposal for decision that the business should keep the permit that’s allowing it to expand.

Opponents of the fish farm are vowing to keep fighting the permit.

Photo courtesy of National Scenic Byways

The debate over fish farming in Michigan has arrived in Lansing.

Hearings are taking place at the state Capitol as environmental groups argue against a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Quality. That permit allows the operation of a fish hatchery operated by the Harrietta Hills Trout Farm in Grayling to raise rainbow trout on a branch of the Au Sable River, which is located in the northern lower peninsula, about 50 miles east of Traverse City.

IvanWalsh.com / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Hearings are underway in the State House this week on two opposing bills about fish farming in the Great Lakes.

One bill, sponsored by Michigan Rep. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo, seeks a total ban on commercial net pen aquaculture in Michigan Great Lakes waters and connecting rivers.

"I don't know how you can regulate 200 tons of fish just dumping manure in the Great Lakes," said Bumstead.

Bumstead said waste from fish farms threatens Michigan's multi-billion dollar fishing, recreation and tourism industries.

Gord Cole

A report on fish farming in the Great Lakes suggests Michigan should move carefully if it allows the industry to start up.

State officials asked a panel of scientists to study the issue. There have been two proposals from companies that want to start raising rainbow trout in net pens in the Great Lakes.

Canadians raise millions of trout in Lake Huron every year and some people want Michigan to do the same.

Lawmaker wants to ban Great Lakes fish farms

Oct 1, 2015
micropterus_dolomieu / Wikimedia commons

A state lawmaker wants to make sure commercial fish farms will never be allowed to operate in portions of the Great Lakes controlled by Michigan.

State Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, says commercial fish farming could create a huge problem with waste.

“This waste could create algae blooms, all sorts of problems on the shore, as well as out on the lake,” he says.

Legislator wants to ban fish farming in Great Lakes

Sep 24, 2015
NASA / Wikimedia Commons

A Republican state lawmaker is introducing legislation to ban commercial fish farming in the Great Lakes.

State Senator Rick Jones (R) said fish farms are a source of pollution, invasive species, and disease that harm native fish populations.

They generate concentrated amounts of fish waste that can cause widespread algae blooms and damage recreational areas, according to Jones.  

Michigan is toying with the idea of building open-water fish pens, like this one in Ontario.
Northern Ontario Aquaculture Association

 

OK, this is where I fess up and tell you that the answer to that headline is "only time will tell."

A scientific advisory panel is studying the possibility now (see their names here), and we expect to see their findings this October. After that report, there will be more "time telling" as state officials decide whether to allow it.

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.

Michigan ready to scrutinize Great Lakes fish farming

May 28, 2015

The State of Michigan is weighing whether to open the door to commercial fish farming in the Great Lakes.

Millions of rainbow trout are raised for food by Canadians every year in Lake Huron and promoters of the business say Michigan should follow suit and could even become a world leader in aquaculture.

State officials are trying to figure out what the risks are and the idea is likely to face opposition from sport fishing groups and other conservationists.

Debate ongoing over fish farming in the Great Lakes

Aug 26, 2014
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan took a big step forward this summer in the business of fish farming. The state issued a permit to expand the Grayling Fish Hatchery more than tenfold.The hatchery raises trout for restaurants and grocery stores.

The expansion comes as interest in fish farming is growing nationwide and there is now talk of going offshore into the open waters of the Great Lakes.

The Grayling Fish Hatchery could soon be the largest aquaculture operation in Michigan by far.

Dan Vogler is one of the owners of Harrietta Hills Trout Farm based near Cadillac. He hopes the expansion is a sign of a growing fish-producing industry in Michigan.