Part 2 of a 3 part series -
Fishing in the Great Lakes would not be what it is today without stocking Pacific salmon in the lakes. But it costs a lot of money. Michigan fisheries managers say it’s worth every dime. In the second report of the series 'The Collapse of the Salmon Economy," we look at the economic benefits of subsidizing salmon fishing in the Great Lakes.
In the 1960s, the state of Michigan first put salmon into the Great Lakes. It was a gamble to create world-class recreational fishing.
Michigan spends about $8-million a year stocking salmon and other types of fish. But the Department of Natural Resources doesn’t really know how many fish we’re catching for those millions of dollars.
Gary Whelan is in charge of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources fish hatcheries.
“I wouldn’t say we have no idea. I think we have a ballpark. We don’t have a great estimate. We would like to have a lot better estimates than we have now. I would absolutely agree with that.”
A Michigan Watch analysis found the cost for each fish caught in Michigan waters ranges from a couple of dollars to $150 per fish caught, depending on species and depending on year. We use catch estimates used by some other Great Lakes states.
The Michigan DNR’s Gary Whelan questions those estimates and our calculations.
And… he says besides, we’re looking at it all wrong. It’s not about the cost per hatchery-raised fish caught; it’s about what those salmon mean to Michigan’s economy.
“You have lots of people, for example, who are catch-and-release fishermen who will never take fish home. But, they’re spending a lot of money to go fishing for this fish or the opportunity to fish for them.”
And stocking Pacific salmon does attract anglers from all over.