Great Lakes Fish Farms

Last week, Thursday November 19th, myself, Capt. Rich Haslett (newly elected Vice President) ,past MCBA president. Capt. Terry Walsh , and Capt. Larry Lienczewski;  MCBA treasurer attended a public input and comment meeting on  Aquaculture/Net Pen Fish farming for the Great Lakes.This DEQ/  MDNR public forum was held at the Tree Tops Resort at Gaylord, MI.

We voiced our position on Aquaculture/Net Pen Fish farming; the harm that could be done to our sport fishery here on the Great Lakes via disease and pollution to the lakes. Also at this meeting we gave our verbal support to State senator Rick Jones Aquaculture Senate Bill 526.

This issue will be updated in more detail in our next Cannonball Newsletter coming out in December, anyway … having an MCBA presence at the public comments meeting was noticed by other State Sportfishing  groups and the Pro-Aquaculture people. Several members from these sport fishing groups came out in the lobby to thank our Association on our position during the ongoing meeting. That made me proud to  be a part of MCBA as President.

As I finish writing this brief note, it is the eve before Thanksgiving. I and our board of directors want to wish all our Captains and their families a Happy Thanksgiving .

May everyone have great holiday weekend and stay safe with your travels.

Kind regards,

Capt. Eric Andersen
President Michigan Charter Boat Association

Please view the videos of the meeting:
• Great Lakes Aquaculture Public Meeting 11/19/15 Part 1
• Great Lakes Aquaculture Public Meeting 11/19/15 Part 2

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Jones introduces bill banning fish farming in the Great Lakes

(Courtesy of Gord Cole)

(Courtesy of Gord Cole)

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones on Tuesday introduced legislation to ban commercial fish farming in the Great Lakes.

“In Michigan, legislators have a Constitutional duty to protect our Great Lakes,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “By allowing commercial fish farming we can say goodbye to our Pure Michigan status and hello to an undrinkable Toledo water supply.”

Jones said commercial fish farms in the Great Lakes are all risk and no reward. These are proven sources of pollution, invasive species, disease, and fugitive fish escaping to wreak havoc on our Great Lakes fisheries.

Caged fish culture was developed to produce thousands of fish with the purpose to sell as food. These factory fish farms are floating nets placed in waterways and are huge threats to the existing ecosystem.

“Concentrated fish poo is just not Pure Michigan,” Jones said. “A typical 200,000-fish operation creates as much waste as a city of 65,000 people, which would make the Great Lakes a giant toilet bowl.”

Only Canada is currently allowing aquaculture in the Great Lakes, and they are now trying to get out of the business. Ontario is the only jurisdiction to allow fish farms on the Great Lakes and there has not been a new farming permit issued in nearly 20 years.

Fish waste contains phosphorous, which is beneficial for ecosystems in minimal amounts. However, a concentrated amount of phosphorous, found in fish farms, can cause widespread algae blooms like the one that devastated Lake Erie. Algae blooms are steadily becoming more common throughout the Lakes. An algae bloom led to the undrinkable water supply in Toledo.

“The waste in a commercial fish farm would stay where Michigan families enjoy swimming, boating, fishing and paddling,” Jones said. “Unlike ocean fish farms, where tides flush away the waste, it will stay in the coastal region of the Great Lakes.”

Jones said that to see the best example of the unintended consequences of aquaculture, residents have to look no further than the Asian Carp knocking on the door of Lake Michigan. These invasive fish were originally brought in to clean aquaculture and wastewater ponds. All it took was a flood and they established themselves as the greatest threat the Great Lakes has ever seen.

“Regardless of how many safeguards are put in place, there is always some threat that will be unaccounted for, and one mistake here can threaten the entire Great Lakes economy,” Jones said. “Asian Carp are just one horror story for the Great Lakes. We don’t need to introduce these fish farms for something else to go wrong.”

Jones said crowded fish cages are breeding grounds for disease that can spread to our wild fish population. In 2007, a virus wiped out 70 percent of the fish in Chile’s huge salmon farming industry. Unlike Chile, Michigan has wild salmon.

“Imagine what could happen to our wild salmon population if such a virus was introduced into our waters. They’d be gone,” Jones said.

Jones said that inevitably these farm fish will escape, and when they do they will destroy our Great Lakes fishery. There have been reports in British Columbia of 400,000 fish escaping their nets, and another 300,000 in Scotland. These fugitive fish compete with wild fish for food, disrupt their natural reproduction and interfere with their genetic diversity, ultimately making it very difficult for the wild fish to survive.

Sport fishing in Michigan supports 15,000 jobs, and the Great Lakes fishing industry contributes $7 billion a year to the economy. The Great Lakes has some of the world’s greatest steelhead fishing, a type of rainbow trout.

“A proposed fish farm growing rainbow trout would put our sport fishing industry, as well as the species, in grave peril,” Jones said. “This risk is too great to only create a handful of jobs and allow fish farming into the Great Lakes. When that rainbow trout inevitably escapes it will jeopardize the entire steelhead population.”

Jones said that there is a right way to do aquaculture. Closed-loop aquaculture operations can help meet the demand of the proponent’s contribution to feed the world’s growing population, without damaging the Great Lakes. These are systems on land that use a separate water supply to allow more control over fish waste, which can actually be harvested for fertilizer.

“Detroit and other cities with vacant buildings are prime candidates to support the creation of these contained systems and bring a thriving industry to our economy,” said Jones. “The Great Lakes are ours to protect, and there is no room for concentrated fish poo in Pure Michigan. Allowing fish farms into the Great Lakes is too much of a risk for no reward.”

Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Michigan Trout Unlimited and Michigan Environmental Council are all supportive of Jones’ bill.

Senate Bill 526 has been referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee for consideration.

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2015 MCBA Annual Conference Business Meeting

Traverse City, MI — The 2015 Annual Michigan Charter Boat Association Business Conference will be held over the weekend of October 16, 17 and 18, 2015 at The Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City.annual

The Association has made arrangements with the hotel for a special room rate for those who wish to stay overnight for one or two nights. Call them at (231)941-3600, and ask for the MCBA special rate ($89 per night) the address is 3575 U.S. Highway 31 S, Traverse City, MI 49684


The fall conference is a great way to catch up on what’s going on and to enjoy a day or two away from the regular home routine. Bring your spouse or significant other, too. There are lots of things (shopping for the upcoming holidays) to do in the area.

The Annual Conference will begin on Friday evening with a social gathering in the hospitality room (6: PM – till?). This informal gathering will provide an evening long opportunity to mix with MCBA officers and board members; maybe some DNR personnel or Sea Grant staff, and of course, other captains from all over the state. There will be FREE snacks, pizza, pop and adult drinks.

Of course, attendance at this event is strictly optional, but it is a great way to start your weekend at the MCBA conference. And you might get a chance to talk to someone in the DNR who needs to hear your issue. However, you don’t need to attend the Friday evening session to enjoy the conference main event.

The main event will begin early Saturday morning, with coffee and Complete Deluxe Buffet Breakfast (included with your registration) during registration. The program begins at 9:00 AM. Various Speakers and panels will present information about issues of interest to our captains. There are question and answer sessions at the end of each presentation. The program for this fall’s conference agenda is located here.

On Saturday evening we will have a dinner at the hotel, followed by a short program including the Annual MCBA Awards and our honored dinner speaker (to be announced). After the short program, there is a spirited tackle raffle, usually raffling off some of the best current tackle from the best companies.

For those who stay over and we encourage you to do so, Sunday morning brings the official annual business meeting after coffee, juice, and BREAKFAST BUFFET (Free to all members & spouse). The meeting will cover all the current business of the Association and will end following the election of officers. Normally, the meeting is over by 10:30 AM or so, and folks begin to check out to travel home or take in local events.

We offer our annual business meeting as a benefit to our members for the sake of working together. We hope you will attend to learn more from your Association and what we have to offer your charter business. Why not take a little time off from your normal schedule and take in an interesting, informative and relaxing weekend for fun and camaraderie with fellow captains.

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MCBA Remembers Captain Ron Dubsky

Captain Ron Dubsky and wife Carol

Capt. Ron Dubsky, Michigan Charter Boat Association Executive Secretary passed away unexpectedly at his home in Romulus Tuesday morning, August 11, 2015.  A recipient of the MCBA Award in 2009, Capt. Dubsky said, “I love this organization, and I’m humbled by the award.”  Capt. Dubsky has been an MCBA member for well over 20 years, serving on the Board of Directors as Secretary, and most recently as Executive Secretary in charge of membership.
Capt. Dubsky was an Army veteran, a General Motors employee for 10 years, a 34th district Court Officer from 1970-1991, and a charter boat captain from 1970-2000.  Before coming to MCBA, he was in charge of the drug program for the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association.
Capt. Dubsky loved spending time with his grandchildren, Jared and Jordan.  Always an outdoorsman, in later years he became an avid bird watcher and enjoyed keeping his numerous feeders full.
His wife Carole, daughter Janice Cusmano, Sister Linda, and grandsons Jared and Jordan survive Capt. Dubsky.  His wishes after death were cremation and to have his ashes spread on his beloved Lake Erie, where he ran Ice Breaker Charters II for so many years.  A memorial service may be held at a later date.
On-line friends may go to to pay their respects.
Capt. Dubsky will be greatly missed by all of his MCBA family.Respectfully,
Capt. Terry R. Walsh
MCBA President
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Consent Decree

consentThe 2000 Consent Decree is a Federal Court order that represents a negotiated agreement between the United States, the State of Michigan, and Five Native American Indian Tribes signatory to the 1836 Treaty of Washington. This court order was signed in August of 2000 and expires in August of 2020.

The DNR Fisheries Division has begun the internal process of preparing to negotiate the next Consent Degree.

The MCBA is in full support of DNR and would like to have as much input as possible in the 2020 Consent Decree, since it affects about 70% of our membership. Since the MCBA cannot afford to secure a lawyer of its own to support the DNR, the MCBA Board has decided to pool its resources, and join the ‘Coalition to Protect Michigan Resources’, which has been an amicus to the original Judge Fox/Tribal/US/State Great Lakes court case.

The Coalitions’ roots started with the Grand Traverse Area Sport Fishing Association in the mid 1970’s. William Hicks, leader of the Association became concerned about expansion of Tribal commercial fishing. Avert phase I of the Judge Fox case reaffirmed in May of 1979 three tribes rights to fish with their own rules in the Great Lakes. Hicks hired attorney Ted Swift from Foster Swift Collins and Smith of Lansing to represent the Association’s interests. Steve Schultz, attorney originally from the same firm, became involved in 1983 and represented the Grand Traverse Area Sport Fishing Association and the Hammond Bay Area Anglers Association in 1999. Currently, Schultz is cofounder of Fahey Schultz Burzych Rodes PLC and has been representing the coalition for Tribal Fishing, hunting and gathering issues for over 30 years. There are very few attorneys who have this vast amount of experience with this issue.

The amicus status was granted when phase II of the Fox decision commenced in 1983 when the three Tribes asked the court to allocate the Great Lakes Fishery resources to the Tribe and State. At the time, Steve requested that Grand Traverse Area Sport Fishing Association become an amicus and Federal Judge Richard Ensien granted the petition and welcomed input of sport fishing groups to the case. Their amicus status continues today through the coalition.

When the expiration date of the 1985 Great Lakes Agreement was approaching, it became clear to both Grand Traverse Area Sports Fishing Association and the Hammond Bay Area Anglers Association that they would be more effective and reduce individual costs of litigation if a coalition was established with more organizations. The result was the formation of the Coalition to Protect Michigan Resources which was originally known as the Michigan Fisheries Resource Conservation Coalition but was changed to the new name when several additional members were added prior to the Inland State / Tribal / US Hunting Fishing and Gathering negotiations.

Steve Schultz and members of the Coalition were present at the negotiating table during both the 2000 Great Lakes and the 2007 inland negotiations. Both agreements required two years to complete. The coalition representatives communicated regularly with the State (AG office, Fish Chief, Governor’s Office, Directors office, and others) and caucused with them during breaks at the negotiations. The Coalition has representatives at the annual Executive Councils meetings when the State, Tribes, US amici and the public meet. During these meetings issues concerning both agreements are discussed.

The negotiations for all decree agreements have been confidential, and unless an association is part of an amicus group, the outcome and direction of the negotiations will not be known until after the agreement is signed. Each of the amici signed confidentially agreements and the information can be shared and discussed only between members of a small advisory committee that each amicus association has.

The members of the Coalition to protect Michigan Resources are:
– Grand Traverse Bay Area Sport Fishing Association
– Blue Water Sport Fishing Association
– Burt Lake Sport Fishing Association
– Cheboygan Area Sport Fishing Association
– Hammond Bay Area Anglers Association
– Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fisherman Association
– Michigan Trout Unlimited
– Michigan United Conservation Club
– Michigan Charter Boat Association

The MCBA Board Members are working hard to keep up with what is going on with our Michigan Fishery.
We appreciate your support.

Captain Bill Winowiecki

Northwest Michigan Director

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Passing of Emil Dean – long time friend

emilOn March 30 2015 Emil W Dean passed away peacefully in his home in Cadillac. He was born December 19, 1932, and is survived by his wife of 63 years Margaret Edith Dean. Additionally he is survived by 5 children: Rick and Judy Dean, Terry and Pam Dean, Sheila and Tom Brunner, Mary Ellen and Gary Bowling, and James and Tammy Dean. He also has 14 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his mother and father, Glen and Fay Dean: two brothers, Lee Dean and Bruce Dean, and one sister, Pat Barnett.

He and his wife lived in the Bear Lake area from 1961 to 2000 and spent the next 15 years traveling around the country in their motor home.

He was a fishing guide for 32 years and was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 1997. He was instrumental in the development of the charter fishing industry in Manistee County as well as the State of Michigan. He was one of the founders of the Michigan Charter Boat Association. Additionally he received many other awards for contributions to the Lake Michigan fishery including being appointed to the Great Lakes Advisory Committee by Governor William G Milliken. He was a member of the Clam Lake Masonic Lodge located in Cadillac.
A celebration of life will be held in Kaleva at the Big Bear Sportsman Club 8927 Puustinen Rd

Kaleva, MI 49614 , Saturday the Fourth of April from 1 to 3 pm.

In lieu of flowers the family would like donations made in his name to Hospice of Munson at 1105 6th St, Traverse City, MI 49684 or to Clam Lake Masonic Lodge at 124 1/2 N Mitchell St,
Cadillac MI 49601

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2015 Lake Huron workshops

2015 Lake Huron workshops offer latest research, updates about the Lake Huron fishery

Lake Huron fisheries workshops bring communities together with fisheries scientists and managers to discuss new research findings, fishing trends, and management updates.

Wild produced Lake Trout more often seen in angler catches, a sign of recovery for this native species in Lake Huron. Brandon Schroeder | Michigan Sea Grant

Wild produced Lake Trout more often seen in angler catches, a sign of recovery for this native species in Lake Huron. Brandon Schroeder | Michigan Sea Grant

The Lake Huron fishery has witnessed dramatic ecological changes recently resulting from introductions and impacts of aquatic invasive species. Much has been done by scientists and management agencies working with anglers and coastal communities to understand and respond to these ecosystem changes. In spite of the challenges brought on by invasive species, Lake Huron has proven resilient and (with help) continues to offer a diverse and valuable fishery.

And a great year of fishing it was on Lake Huron. Fishing with Trout Scout and Wipe Out charter captains, youth, as part of the 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp, enjoyed fishing northern Lake Huron last August. On any given day they were not only hooking ample amounts of fish but a striking diversity of species as well – Chinook, Atlantic, and Pink salmon caught alongside Steelhead, Lake Trout, and Walleye. To the south, Saginaw Bay anglers reported fantastic fishing and limits of Walleye throughout the season – but wondered about a Yellow Perch fishery that seems to still suffer. Lake Huron anglers gearing up for spring fishing opportunities may be wondering if these trends will continue during the coming fishing season.

Several educational opportunities exist this spring to explore the status and health, trends and fishing opportunities offered in Lake Huron directly from the fisheries experts who gather this information.

4-H girl fishing on charter boat with captain

Youth enjoy catching a diversity of fish species with Lake Huron charter captains during the 4-H  Great Lakes and Natural Resource Camp. Nick Baumgart | Michigan State University Extension.

2015 Lake Huron Fisheries Workshops: A chance to learn more, you are invited to participate!

This spring, Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension, in partnership with theMichigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division, USGS Great Lakes Science Center, and local fishery organizations will be hosting three evening regional workshops across Lake Huron’s coastline. Workshops are free and open to the public, and will provide valuable information for anglers, charter captains, resource professionals and other community members interested in the status of the fishery.

Workshop dates and locations include:

  • Oscoda: April 23, 2015 (Thursday, 6–9 p.m.) at Camp Inn Lodge, 3111 US-23 South, Oscoda Township, MI 48750
  • Cedarville: April 28, 2015 (Tuesday, 6–9 p.m.) at Les Cheneaux Sportsman’s Club M-134, Cedarville, MI 49719
  • Bay City: April 30, 2015 (Thursday, 6–9 p.m.) at Knights of Columbus Hall, 360 S. River Rd. (M-13), Bay City, MI 48708

Topics will include information and updates regarding fish populations and angler catch data, forage or prey fish surveys, recovering native Lake Trout populations, status of Saginaw Bay Walleye and Yellow Perch, habitat restoration efforts, updates on fisheries management activities, among many other Lake Huron related topics of local interest.  Of highlight this year will be a focus on Saginaw Bay fish and their habitats, including an overview of possible future management options that could allow anglers to benefit from a healthy and growing Walleye population.  Also a look at a new Saginaw Bay reef habitat project partnership being led by Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Office of the Great Lakes andPurdue University, among other partners.

These workshops are a valuable networking and educational opportunity for all involved:

  • Recreational anglers have the opportunity to become more scientific anglers – learning about feeding trends of predator fish species may prove valuable in deciding where to fish or what lures to put into play while fishing this year.
  • Fishery businesses – sportfishing charters, commercial fishing, and bait shops – gain insights relating to Lake Huron fisheries resources around which their business depends. This information may prove useful in adapting business strategies, ranging from fishing practices to business marketing.
  • Research and management agencies share informational updates, and in trade value insights and input through this dialogue with anglers and community stakeholders on various fisheries management topics. The effectiveness of fisheries research and management are enhanced through these collaborations.

Workshops are open to the public at no cost to participants; however, pre-registration is requested.You are invited to register online to participate in any (or all) of these educational opportunities.

For program information or questions, contact Brandon Schroeder, Michigan Sea Grant by email or at 989-354-9885. Workshop details are also available online on the Michigan Sea Grant website.

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MCBA Scheduled Board Meetings for 2015

Scheduled Board Meetings for 2015:

January 25, 2015 – Clare, MI – Doherty Hotel – 10:00 am.
April 19, 2015 – Clare, MI – Doherty Hotel – 10:00 am.
October 4, 2015 – Clare, MI – Doherty Hotel – 10:00 am.
October 18, 2015 – Traverse City, MI. -Great Wolf Lodge – 10:30 am.

All board meetings are open to all MCBA members who would like to attend. Please let us know in advance if you plan on attending so we have enough materials on hand to pass out. Contact any board member or call: 800-MCBA-971

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Researchers discover naturally reproducing Atlantic salmon in the upper Great Lakes

web_atlantic_salmon_fryLake Superior State University researchers have determined that Atlantic salmon are naturally reproducing in the St. Mary’s River.

The prized game fish were originally native to Lake Ontario, but experienced a massive population decline by the late 1800’s. Today, Atlantic salmon are stocked in the St. Mary’s River and in other parts of the upper Great Lakes.

Though the Atlantic salmon population remained healthy when maintained by the St. Mary’s fishery, the salmon population did not take root naturally, apparently due to a thiamine deficiency.

While conducting research for his senior undergraduate thesis on sturgeon, Stefan Tucker found what he suspected were Atlantic salmon fry in the St. Mary’s River. His identification was later confirmed by University of Michigan taxonomist Gerald Smith. Tucker and a team of researchers concluded that the Atlantic salmon population is indeed naturally reproducing.

A press release from Lake Superior State University explains the implications of this finding:

The discovery is not only exciting for those at LSSU, the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, and others who have been involved with stocking Atlantic salmon in the upper Great Lakes for more than two decades, but also to anyone who follows the changing dynamics of the Great Lakes, especially in relation to lake trout and salmonids.

Though this discovery answers one question, it begs others.

Tucker concluded his thesis by stating that “the extent of natural reproduction and mechanisms influencing reproductive success are unclear and warrant further attention.”

– Ari Sandberg, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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New Website Coming soon

We’re under going a website revision and are set to launch soon. When completed the new website will be smartphone ready.

As a result there is a moratorium on all web updates for 10 days.




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