Michigan Sea Grant will receive $799,226 to oversee the construction an additional fish spawning reef in the Detroit River. The funding is through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Sustain Our Great Lakes Grant Program. Matching funds bring the total dollar amount of the award close to $1.6 million. The project will increase habitat for fish at all life stages, but especially spawning, for a variety of important sport and commercial species including lake sturgeon, lake whitefish, walleye and perch.
The reef is slated to be installed in the Detroit River near historic Fort Wayne to increase habitat for native fish. The Detroit River is classified as an international Area of Concern, due to contamination and the presence of Beneficial Use Impairments (BUI), including loss of fish and wildlife habitat. As a result, the Huron Erie Corridor (HEC) steering committee, consisting of more than 27 organizations who manage and protect the ecologically and economically valuable river, has placed increased emphasis on the construction of artificial spawning reefs. Fish habitat restoration helps rebuild the Michigan fishery, which in turn helps boost the economy.
“Michigan Sea Grant has a proven track record of creating successful spawning habitats. This grant will further expand their work on the Detroit River and revitalize our indispensable local eco-systems,” Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-13th District) said in a press release supporting the project.
This reef project will build upon previous and ongoing restoration efforts lead by Michigan Sea Grant and partner organizations. Data collected from other successful reef projects in the Detroit and St. Clair rivers will be applied to this project in order to maximize the benefit to fish species.