News and Events

State releases Part 2 of its official Water Strategy

Protecting, promoting state’s freshwater resources are key goals.


The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes has just released Part 2 of its Water Strategy, which was developed after an extensive public engagement process during 2014-2016. The state released Part one on June 10, 2016. Two additional sections are expected to be released by the end of the summer.

During the press event on July 27, 2016, at Duck Lake’s Interlochen State Park beach in Grand Traverse County, state Office of the Great Lakes Director Jon Allan and Michigan Department of Natural Resources Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson, manager of the Michigan Waterways Commission, spoke of the strong state interest in making and keeping water at our front porch; of being universally accessible to all; and the wonderful system of harbors of refuge along the Great Lakes. In addition, an adaptive paddling demonstration was held with participants from the Lighthouse Neurological Rehabilitation Center in Grand Traverse County.

Michigan Sea Grant has been involved for the past few years with one of the state’s Water Strategy priority areas: Support investments in commercial and recreational harbors. Through the work of the Small Harbor Sustainability integrated assessment project (2014-ongoing), coastal communities have been looking at placemaking, waterfront access and long-term sustainability. Currently, the City of St. Ignace and the City of Rogers Cityare providing feedback to a draft sustainability toolkit and will be doing waterfront visioning during fall 2016 in each of their respective cities.

Michigan Sea Grant also has been involved with several other Water Strategy priority areas including developing and implementing a water trails system and preventing the introduction of new aquatic invasive species and controlling established populations.

As Gov. Snyder states in his forward to the Water Strategy “Michigan has an unparalleled system of thousands of lakes, streams, wetlands, beaches and groundwater resources. This vast water network – combined with our unique position within the Great Lakes, the world’s largest freshwater system – provides us exceptional opportunities. But, it also means we have a great responsibility to ensure the healthiest water system in the world.”

Michigan Sea Grant can help with research and also with programs to help foster stewardship of our Great Lakes and coastal waters and we look forward to partnering with the state and others in a number of initiatives with this new Water Strategy.

This entry was posted in News.

Marquette Water Safety and Recreation Expo

Event Date: 8/11/2016

Learn about dangerous currents and how to be safe in the water.

The 2016 Marquette Water Safety and Recreation Expo will offer information on dangerous currents and how to stay safe while in the water. Photo: Ron Kinnunen | Michigan Sea Grant

The 2016 Marquette Water Safety and Recreation Expo will offer information on dangerous currents and how to stay safe while in the water. Photo: Ron Kinnunen

Marquette beaches have several types of dangerous currents that can pose a threat to swimmers. Beachgoers will have an opportunity to learn about these dangerous currents during the Marquette Water Safety and Recreation Expo. The expo will be held 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 11, 2016, at McCarty’s Cove. It is sponsored by the National Weather Service, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant, the City of Marquette, U.S. Coast Guard, Northern Michigan University, and the YMCA of Marquette County.

The City of Marquette has numerous beaches that pose different types of hazards. Earlier this year two drownings occurred at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Little Presque Isle Recreation Area north of Marquette, which is an isolated beach area known for its channel currents. Several years ago two swimmers lost their lives at Middle Bay Beach at Presque Isle Park due to rip currents. Two other swimmers during that same summer lost their lives at Picnic Rocks due to channel currents. At Picnic Rocks fifteen drownings have occurred since 1963 and seven these have occurred since 1996.

Because of the dangerous currents that exist along the Marquette coastline the Marquette Waterfront Safety Task Force was formed to develop specific education and safety information for both residents and visitors to the area. The Task Force established a uniform beachfront signage and mapping program. Over the last couple of years Michigan Sea Grant through a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Storms Program grant was able to provide the City of Marquette with water rescue equipment and loaner youth life jackets. Through this same program Michigan Sea Grant provided rescue equipment for three new rescue stations at Little Presque Isle Recreation Area where two recent drowning occurred. Since this equipment was deployed at Little Presque Isle Recreation Area one life has been saved. In addition, one person was saved this past winter that fell through the ice off Marquette with rescuers utilizing the deployed rescue equipment.

The Marquette Water Safety and Recreation Expo will be an opportunity to learn about how to save yourself or someone else if trapped in a dangerous current. It will also provide an opportunity to learn about dangerous current forecasts to help prevent getting into a life-threatening situation in the first place.

The National Weather Service and Michigan Sea Grant will supply information on Great Lakes rip currents and channel currents, the science behind rip currents and channel currents, and also on forecasts offered to advise people of rip current risk and dangerous lake conditions. The City of Marquette will provide maps of the Marquette beaches and the YMCA will have information on swimming and water recreation classes. In case of rain, the event will be held on Aug. 12, 2016, in the same location.

Trawl fishing study tracks bycatch in Wisconsin

Early results from an experimental lake whitefish trawl fishery suggest minimal impact on gamefish.

This is a loop tag recovered from a lake trout caught by Reel Action Fishing Charters near Holland, Mich. Photo: Capt. Tom Manthei

This is a loop tag recovered from a lake trout caught by Reel Action Fishing Charters near Holland, Mich. Photo: Capt. Tom Manthei

The lake whitefish is a prized catch when it comes to commercial fishing in Lake Michigan. Through the years, a variety of different net designs have been used to catch lake whitefish.  As in any commercial fishery, bycatch of other species is a concern.

In most areas of Lake Michigan, state-licensed commercial fishing operations are limited to the use of trap nets. Trap nets have the advantage of trapping fish in a large holding area called the pot. Pots are large enough that several thousand fish can swim freely in the net and survive for several days before the net is retrieved. This means that non-target fish like trout and salmon can generally be released alive and unharmed.

Another type of net is now being tested by a fishing operation on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan. A trawl net is very different than a trap net. Instead of being anchored to the bottom and waiting for fish to swim in, the trawl is actively dragged through the water. The net and its catch are brought on board with a heavy-duty winch after being dragged for 30 to 45 minutes behind the vessel. Many fish are alive and in good condition when brought on board, but not all. The end or bag of the trawl has large mesh (4.5 inches across), which allows smaller fish to escape before being raised to the surface.

The Susie Q. Fish Company, which operates out of Two Rivers, WI, has a history of trawling, first for alewives, then smelt, and now to target lake whitefish. This is an experimental fishery started in 2015, which is permitted to operate by the state of Wisconsin with the purpose of studying the rate of bycatch in different depths and seasons. Cooperation between the commercial fisher, Sea Grant, and the DNR make this research possible.

That is where Sea Grant comes in. Dr. Titus Seilheimer, fisheries specialist with Wisconsin Sea Grant, has been spending a lot of time out on the water counting and measuring catches on the Susie Q. Fish Company’s trawler, the Peter Paul. In all, he collected data from 491 net drags during a 65-day study period last year.

Good news for anglers

Seilheimer found that trawling was surprisingly selective for legal-sized whitefish. In fact, less than 3 percent of trawl-caught fish were bycatch. Most of these were lake trout or sublegal whitefish. Favored gamefish were almost completely avoided.  No steelhead or coho salmon were caught in trawl tows. One brown trout and three Chinook salmon were caught in 65 days of trawling – less than a daily limit for a single sport angler in Michigan waters.

Look for lake trout tags

Lake trout made up a larger fraction of bycatch, and the stress of being caught from deep water, handled, and released can be fatal. Seilheimer tagged trawl-caught lake trout to find out if released fish are surviving. “Lake trout are a hearty fish, and recovered quickly when placed in a recovery tank on the trawler,” Seilheimer reported. Of course, the tags must be returned to make the survival calculations work.

Anglers should be on the lookout for brightly-colored orange loop tags on lake trout. The tags are anchored behind the dorsal fin. Each tag has a phone number and unique ID number printed on it. If you catch a lake trout with one of these tags, be sure to call the number and report where you caught the fish.

Seilheimer has already heard back on the whereabouts of some of the trawl survivors. One lake trout travelled over 300 miles into Canadian waters of Lake Huron. Another was caught over 100 miles away near Holland, Mich. (See photo).

Although lake trout are no longer being tagged as part of the study, collection of other data continues. The future of lake whitefish trawling operations in Lake Michigan is uncertain at this time, but this research will help to inform management decisions on permitting of trawl operations for Great Lakes whitefish.

Great Lakes offering warmer water for summer pleasure

Summer 2016 has significantly warmer lake temperatures than 2015.

By Mark Breederland

Illustration: NOAA National Weather Service, Weather Forecast Office Gaylord

Illustration: NOAA National Weather Service, Weather Forecast Office Gaylord

Have you had a chance to visit beaches on the Great Lakes this summer? If not, you might want to schedule a trip as the waters are significantly warmer in 2016 than in 2015. The NOAA National Weather Service Gaylord office recently released this analysis of surface water temperatures across all the Great Lakes. Parts of the Great Lakes are a full 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than one year ago.

You may ask what helps make the difference. Well, from the graphic, we see the air temperatures are up from the long-term average and are notably higher than in 2015, helping warm the water. This is one factor but remember, winter of 2014-15 also was a significant year for ice cover in the Great Lakes as contrasted with the winter of 2015-16, which was minimal. And probably an increased number of clear days helped allow solar rays to directly impact the water.

On Lake Michigan, the spring warmup happened very quickly and almost caught up to 2012, a very warm year on the records. The NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab has some great tools to review and compare. The Great Lakes Average Surface Water Temperatures for individual Great Lakes are available. Here is Lake Michigan’s 2016 average surface water temperature compared to average from 1992-2015 showing the above average temperatures:


Graph of lake temperatures. Credit: NOAA CoastWatch

As you can tell from the graph, Lake Michigan (and Huron, Erie and Ontario similarly) peaks in temperature in July/August (September for Lake Superior).

Take time to enjoy the waters of the Great Lakes during the summer and be sure to practice safe swimming and boating as you do. As a reminder, swimming in the Great Lakes is not like swimming in inland lakes due to wave conditions, sand bar formation and other factors. Michigan Sea Grant has developed some great information to assist in safe swimming at Great Lakes beaches – see the website for more info.

Sea Grant 50th Anniversary: Celebrating the work of our Extension educators

Urban and rural communities, Michigan Sea Grant educator Mark Breederland is proud to serve them all.

Sea Grant 50 Breederland IMG_4991

In 2016, the National Sea Grant College Program celebrates 50 years of putting science to work for America’s coastal communities.

Michigan Sea Grant Extension educators live and work in coastal communities around the state. We celebrate their hard work and take this opportunity to introduce each of them during this anniversary year.

Mark Breederland enjoys fishing, especially when he's successful.

Mark Breederland enjoys fishing, especially when he’s successful.

Mark Breederland, located in Traverse City, Mich., loves to work with Great Lakes coastal communities and has done so for more than 29 years. He has been a field educator with Michigan Sea Grant Extension for the last 21 years. Prior to his work for Sea Grant, Mark served for six years on water and environment programs with local governments at the Northwest Michigan regional planning commission office in Traverse City. Beside this grounding in local realities, Mark had the pleasure of learning the broad bi-national context of Great Lakes science and policy issues while serving  for three years at the International Joint Commission’s Great Lakes office (Windsor, Ontario), where he traveled to many of the communities where Great Lakes Areas of Concern were located.

Within Michigan Sea Grant, he’s served diverse geographies—working both the Southeast Michigan region (Ohio state line to the tip of the Thumb) and, currently, the Northwest Lower region, as well as special programs and projects in many other places.

Mark learned to fish on Lake St. Clair. He earned a bachelor of science degree from Taylor University (Upland, Ind.), and a master of environmental science from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio). He enjoys outdoor family activities with his wife and 2 teenage daughters and he likes smallmouth fishing but concedes he’s better at fishing than catching most of the time!

What made you decide to be an extension educator?

I was able to work with some great folks with MSU Extension early in my career in various local projects – I saw first hand the value of an honest broker of information at the local level. Then, while I was at the International Joint Commission, I got a chance to meet various Sea Grant Extension folks in other Great Lakes states – Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc. I was impressed with how involved and effective the Sea Grant extension programs were in communities across the Great Lakes. While I learned much Great Lakes information in the international-policy level arena and was able to contribute at that level, I felt my heart and passion best matched up at the local level.

How has Michigan Sea Grant made a difference in our state?

We’ve helped make a difference in the urban coast. I was able to work with a tremendous coalition in the mid- to late 1990s to draw attention to the Detroit River coastline – one of our Great Lakes Connecting Channels. And attention was garnered in a big way as we led a nomination process to the White House. In September 1997, the president declared the Detroit River one of 14 American Heritage Rivers. I chaired the steering committee for this initiative – prior to designation and for several years afterwards. This designation didn’t have millions of government dollars attached to it – but the spotlight and the timing for Detroit were tremendous. The private sector, led by General Motors, Peter Stroh and the Stroh Companies, and others had reinvested in the Riverfront and later formed the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. The Riverfront Conservancy did take in multi-million dollars from various foundations and organizations, and today the Detroit Riverfront has been transformed and is endowed to be maintained in the future. Go visit the new Michigan DNR Outdoor Adventure Center, hike the RiverWalk from the Renaissance Center to Belle Isle, and take in this beautiful part of the Great Lakes urban coast for yourself.

We’ve also made a difference in many more rural coastal communities. The lifeblood of these communities is jobs and tourism – and the waterfront provides an advantage from non-coastal areas. Boating and marinas, commercial and recreational fishing, lake level dynamics and information – all areas Michigan Sea Grant has brought research-based information out to real-world people and working waterfront communities.

What challenges does your area of the state face as you look to the future?

Mark Breederland demonstrates how a throw ring works. Credit: Play It Safe In The Water

Mark Breederland demonstrates how a throw ring works. Credit: Play It Safe In The Water

Northwest Lower Peninsula coastal areas are a beautiful draw to many, particularly in summer. But looking below the surface, many communities struggle for sustainability and prosperity on a twelve-month basis and there are some nagging and challenging problems from being located in a dynamic coastal area. Sand is constantly moving on our sandy shores, choking harbor-mouths and funding from the federal government has been non-available for maintenance dredging. How does a small community such as Leland come up with $200,000 on an annual basis just to move this harbor sand to allow boaters safe harbor in a big Lake Michigan blow and ingress/egress for boaters, charter and commercial fisherman? There is a broken system at the federal/state/local level for funding and dealing with this complicated issue, and not just in Leland but many other communities as well.

There could well be a changing Lake Michigan fishery. Communities will have to educate and adjust to new fisheries – perhaps a change away from such a big focus on chinook salmon to enjoying / promoting more diverse fishing – lake trout, steelhead, brown trout, etc.

And we’re all about water safety – swimming in the Great Lakes is not like swimming in inland lakes. Sand bars, wave dynamics, dangerous currents and unprepared people – a potential tragic recipe. We’re trying to educate and inform people to have floatation and yes, enjoy … but please respect these freshwater seas.

How will you and Michigan Sea Grant help?

We’ll continue to bring education to the front doors of these communities. Sea Grant will ensure scientists who study the new ecosystem and food web with all these permanent invasives such as round gobies and quagga mussels, will come share possible or probable impacts on fisheries and learn from local people on their observations as active Great Lakes users; folks who research lake levels fluctuations will update on range of impacts to plan for and deal with; and share information on dangerous currents among other things.

Do you have any advice for students who might want to pursue a career with an environmental focus?

I’d recommend getting a broad-based liberal arts education before specializing too much. I think today’s problems are all connected – and people and local decisions are directly in the midst of these. Problems won’t just be solved with developing an app on a smart phone alone. After a good broad education, later narrow and specialize in your interest areas. Remember a deep and broad foundation can support a large building – and similarly I think this is true in complex coastal issues –  with good logic, multi-disciplinary efforts and understandings, people and environmental problems can come together for practical solutions.

If you could get people to follow just one piece of conservation advice what would it be?

Use, enjoy and keep learning in your coastal (or non-coastal) geography in order to steward this incredible freshwater area. Interestingly, I’ve found some folks who are expert at bird identification couldn’t identify a fish if their life depended on it. Alternatively, some expert fishers can tell you nuances of fish and fish life history, but are ignorant of waterfowl, shoreline birds, plants, etc. If you are a life-long learner, you’ll be able to share this information with neighbors, families, grand-kids, etc. and you’ll make a difference in the next generation!

Sea Grant is a federal-state partnership that turns research into action by supporting science-based, environmentally sustainable practices that ensure coastal communities remain engines of economic growth in a rapidly changing world. There are 33 programs across the country working to help build and grow innovative businesses along America’s oceans and Great Lakes, protect against environmental destruction and natural disasters, and train the next generation of leaders.

Established in 1969, Michigan Sea Grant, is a collaboration between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. We offer research, education and community outreach on topics such as aquatic invasive species, coastal development, commercial and sports fishing, and environmental stewardship for youth.

The Tiger Musky

To stock or not to stock

Muskie chasing lure.

The tiger musky is king of its domain. This one was filmed in a private lake in Mason County, Michigan. Photo: Dan O’Keefe | Michigan Sea Grant

muskie-and-pike-differencesThe tiger musky is a toothy predator that is rarely found in Michigan waters. Pond owners may like the idea of stocking this striking fish, but small ponds do not provide the right food for large tigers.

Northern pike and muskellunge are two of the most impressive fish species found in Michigan waters. What do you get when you cross the two? The result is an equally impressive tiger-striped hybrid known at the tiger musky (See guide to the right, to learn how to tell the hybrid from parent species).

Like its parents, the tiger musky is equipped with extremely sharp teeth. These teeth are used to grab and hold other fish. Unlike sharks or piranhas, the tiger musky cannot bite chunks of flesh out of its prey. This means that it must swallow prey fish whole.

This limits the size of prey that tiger musky can consume. Fisheries biologists call this gape limitation because the gape of the tiger musky’s mouth determines the size of the fish it can swallow. Since prey fish are typically swallowed head first, the depth of a prey fish’s body can save it from being swallowed.

Prey preference

The tiger musky (along with their parent species) generally prefers to hunt prey species that are easy to catch, manipulate into a head-first position, and swallow. Deep-bodied fish with spiny fins are low on the menu, while torpedo-shaped fish with soft fins are a hit.

This means that bluegill and other sunfish are not ideal food for the tiger musky, and lakes dominated by sunfish typically produce slow-growing tiger musky. Yellow perch are slightly better, but large soft-finned fish like suckers, gizzard shad, and ciscoes are the best.

Historic stocking program

Before 1992, tiger muskies were stocked in many public waters by the Michigan DNR. This provided a trophy fishery in several inland lakes with sufficient prey fish, but because tiger muskies are hybrids they are typically sterile.

This meant that non-reproductive stocked tiger muskies were competing with, and sometimes eating, naturally occurring northern pike. In 1992, management emphasis shifted to stocking northern strain muskellunge in inland lakes. In 2011, emphasis shifted to Great Lakes strain (spotted) muskellunge in waters connected to the Great Lakes—but that is another story.

Use in pond and lake management

A pond management bulletin from Michigan State University Extension does not recommend stocking northern pike or muskellunge in ponds. Many ponds develop populations of stunted bluegill, and adding more predators can help – provided that the right predator species is added. Pike, musky, and tiger musky tend to avoid eating bluegill when possible and may eat other predators like largemouth bass if perch, suckers, shad, or other soft-finned fish are not available.

In simple pond ecosystems largemouth bass are often used to control bluegill populations and prevent stunting, but pike, musky, and tiger musky can upset this balance by eating bass in situations where large soft-finned forage fish are not available. With fewer bass in the system, ponds can actually experience more problems with bluegill stunting after the addition of pike, musky, or tiger musky.

Most small ponds have very simple fish communities with few species present, but owners of private lakes may consider stocking tiger muskies at very low density – particularly if soft-finned prey fish are abundant. Various publications suggest that lakes can support one adult tiger musky for every 2 to 5 surface acres.

In small lakes, tiger muskies are a better choice than northern pike which could reproduce and develop a stunted population. Since tiger muskies are sterile it is relatively easy to remove them from a lake over time through harvest of adult fish and cessation of stocking.

Sea Grant 50th Anniversary: Celebrating the work of our Extension educators

Brandon Schroeder is passionate about place-based education.

Our MSU Extension educators live and work in coastal communities around Michigan. We celebrate their hard work and take this opportunity to introduce each of them during this anniversary year.

Brandon Schroeder, located in Alpena, serves five coastal Lake Huron counties in northeast Michigan and has been an extension educator for more than 10 years. Brandon’s background is in fisheries management and aquatic education programming, with both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees through the Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.  Before joining the Michigan Sea Grant team in 2004, he served as a fisheries resource and policy specialist with Michigan United Conservation Clubs.

Brandon’s current Sea Grant Extension efforts involve fisheries science, sustainable coastal tourism development, Lake Huron biodiversity conservation, and promoting Great Lakes literacy and education opportunities. He serves on the national Sea Grant Education Network’s executive committee, and as member of the regional Sea Grant Center for Great Lakes Literacy team. He provides leadership for the statewide 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp, a teen science and leadership camp in Michigan, and locally for a regional place-based stewardship education network, the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative.

What made you decide to be an extension educator?

Growing up near Lake Huron I developed a passion for Michigan’s amazing water resources while fishing, swimming, scuba diving, taking on aquatic studies at school, and generally exploring my local Great Lakes coastline, streams, and farm pond. In contrast, several amazing teachers during my high school experience inspired me toward a career in education. Why choose between two exciting careers? A mentor and advisor, Dr. Shari Dann at Michigan State University, helped me to realize an opportunity to cross-connect Great Lakes and natural resource sciences with education and outreach through careers like Extension. I quickly discovered an amazing career path connecting science with people through education, including fisheries policy with MUCC, natural resources education through 4-H, Project F.I.S.H. and Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education, and eventually a rewarding career with Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension.

How has Michigan Sea Grant made a difference in the Northeast Michigan?

Northeast Michigan is rich in Great Lakes natural resources and in my Sea Grant Extension role it has been extremely exciting to work in partnership with communities to think about how science can help us sustainably benefit from our coastal resources.

In our Extension role, and as part of the community, I believe we are uniquely positioned on the frontline of emerging issues that are most relevant and pressing for our communities. For example, the Lake Huron fishery has witnessed dramatic ecological changes resulting from invasive species introductions. Many communities and businesses – from charter fishing to bait shops – were negatively impacted when important salmon fisheries collapsed as a result of these ecological changes. Michigan Sea Grant was able to help connect scientists and management agencies with anglers and coastal communities to help understand and respond to these ecosystem changes.

More broadly than fishing alone, coastal tourism is extremely important to the economy in northeast Michigan, and several years back, we invested in a regional coastal tourism research and planning project, the Northeast Michigan Integrated Assessment. It is been great to work with agencies, such as the NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and state Department of Natural Resources, along with tourism partners through the U.S. 23 Heritage Route to bring some of the dreams and diversity of tourism development opportunities identified in this planning effort to life. We are proud of our investment to promote sustainable coastal tourism across northeast Michigan.

4H20, sechi disc, schoolship, Alpena

Finally, and perhaps most exciting, has been our work in Northeast Michigan to connect youth – through their learning – in environmental stewardship projects that make a difference in their communities. Through our Center for Great Lakes Literacy and our leadership for the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative partnership, we provide support for schools, educators and youth. Through this work students are engaged as leaders and valued partners in their community addressing important issues of water quality, habitat restoration, invasive species monitoring, biodiversity conservation, marine debris prevention, ecotourism development opportunities, and more! Through their projects youth are not only the future for northeast Michigan but serving as valued leaders and partners in Great Lakes stewardship today.

What challenges does your area of the state face as you look to the future?

Northeast Michigan is rich in Great Lakes and natural resources, and these rural communities across the region benefit from many undeveloped areas from woodlands, waterways, and Great Lakes coastline. Access offers residents and tourists alike a wealth of experiences from hunting and fishing, wetlands and birding, kayaking and maritime heritage. These assets define the region’s sunrise side identity. Northeast Michigan communities continue to look to the Great Lakes as an opportunity to promote economic development but in a resource-responsible way. A challenge will be finding ways to develop resource opportunities, such as through ecotourism, without compromising the quality of life and sense of place this region so much enjoys.

sturgeon teacher dev DSC_5873

How will you and Michigan Sea Grant help?

The most energizing part of my work with Sea Grant is the opportunity to facilitate new partnerships, where we can bring together new networks of people and partners together in ways that catalyze new opportunities. It continues to be rewarding to think of the many new opportunities that may arise when we connect fisheries stakeholders as part of a coastal tourism development initiative; or when we cross-connect school students as citizen scientists working alongside Great Lakes scientists to accomplish a coastal biodiversity mapping project.

Do you have any advice for students who might want to pursue a career with an environmental focus?

I have found my fisheries and Great Lakes science career to be entirely rewarding. Where my passion lies in fisheries science and education, I would challenge students to explore the wide diversity and variety environmental careers to be explored. Careers may range from research to management to law enforcement to even education opportunities. I would encourage students to explore the possibilities, reflect on their passions, and grab opportunities to job shadow or work alongside the professionals currently in these careers. This is not only a great opportunity to explore a potential future career, but also potentially contribute to environmental stewardship opportunities today.

If you could get people to follow just one piece of conservation advice what would it be?

In Michigan, we are extremely rich in Great Lakes and natural resources – they define our sense of place and who we are. Leveraging science can help us care for our Great Lakes, and in trade they will take care of us.

We collectively share responsibility to protect, conserve, and care for these amazing freshwater seas – one fifth of the world’s surface freshwater – found right in our own backyard. Yet, we also gain great benefit from this investment – both personally and as a state – through the many social, ecological, and economic values these resources trade back to us. After all, if we can apply science to enhance water quality we gain clean drinking water, if we reduce marine debris entering our lakes we gain clean beaches on which to swim and play, and if we manage our fisheries and address issues like invasive species than we gain a wide diversity of Great Lakes fish to be to be caught for fun and for food.

Sea Grant is a federal-state partnership that turns research into action by supporting science-based, environmentally sustainable practices that ensure coastal communities remain engines of economic growth in a rapidly changing world. There are 33 programs across the country working to help build and grow innovative businesses along America’s oceans and Great Lakes, protect against environmental destruction and natural disasters, and train the next generation of leaders.

Established in 1969, Michigan Sea Grant, is a collaboration between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. We offer research, education and community outreach on topics such as aquatic invasive species, coastal development, commercial and sports fishing, and environmental stewardship for youth. 

Saginaw Bay Fishing Camp

Event Date: 7/18/2016
End Date: 7/20/2016

This camp is open to all youth between the ages of 8 and 12 year old as of Jan. 1, 2016.

The cost is $20.

The deadline to register is July 11, 2016, space is limited to 40 participants.

The last date for online registration is July 11, 2016. Online registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on the Registration End Date.

BioBlitz Professional Development for Educators

Event Date: 7/23/2016


As part of this year’s BioBlitz, educators will receive training with the Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum Support (MEECS) Ecosystems and Biodiversity unit, make classroom connections for the iNaturalist app, and learn about other hands-on, place-based activities for their classrooms.

Please register for this professional development opportunity on the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI) website (under the “Professional Development” tab).

NEMIGLSI is providing educator stipends to NE Michigan educators who attend the training.

Date: Saturday, July 23rd
Time: 9 am – 3:30 pm
Location: Treetops Resort, 4440 Whitmarsh Rd., Vanderbilt, MI 49795

Training, materials, and lunch are provided to registrants free of charge.

For questions about this training, contact Dani Fegan at or (989) 356-8805, ext 41.

See: BioBlitz flyer (PDF)

Regional Seafood Workshop highlights health benefits of fish

Consumers should eat at least two fish meals per week.

A Great Lakes Regional Seafood Workshop held recently at theUniversity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education Conference Center in Milwaukee, Wis., highlighted the nutritional benefits of eating Great Lakes fish.

The workshop was sponsored by the University of Delaware Sea Grant, the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, and the University Of Wisconsin Milwaukee School Of Freshwater Sciences. Michigan Sea Grant presented on “Great Lakes Whitefish Marketing Case Study” to demonstrate how promoting the attributes of a Great Lakes fish can increase sales. Those who attended the workshop received seafood quality and safety training to increase their technical knowledge and understanding of important global, national, and regional and local issues and developments related to seafood safety and human health.

Doris Hicks, Seafood Technology Specialist for University of Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service, also discussed the benefits of consuming seafood. Health benefits from seafood consumption include reduced coronary heart disease, improved cognitive development in infants, and improved vision in children. Other potential effects, but less certain, include reduction of certain cancers, improved immunological response, delay onset of Alzheimer’s, and lessening the effects of depression.

Consumers should eat eight ounces or more of a variety of seafood per week in place of other meats for maintaining good health. U.S. health organizations recommend a daily fish oil eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake of 250 mg for most consumers and 1000 mg for people with cardiovascular disease. Pregnant women should eat at least eight ounces and up to twelve ounces of a variety of seafood per week that are lower in mercury. The nutritional value of fish is important during growth and development before birth, in early infancy for breastfed infants, and in childhood.

Research has shown the majority of the population is consuming some seafood but most are not consuming as much as recommended. And while most of the public recognizes the health advantages of seafood, more than half have also heard something negative. Fish advisory recommendations are not clearly understood and oftentimes confuse the public.

Both farmed and wild-caught seafood are nutrient-dense foods that are rich sources of healthy fatty acids. The risk of contamination is similar between farmed and wild caught seafood and does not outweigh the health benefits of consuming seafood. Wild-caught seafood cannot meet the growing demand thus creating a need for sustainable seafood farming practices.