National Invasive Species Awareness Week series highlights threats Michigan faces

Damage caused by invasive plants alone costs the U.S. estimated at $34.7 billion a year.

The claws of the red swamp crayfish have bright red spiky bumps. Photo: Mike Murphy

The claws of the red swamp crayfish have bright red spiky bumps. Photo: Mike Murphy

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) defines invasive species as non-native, rapidly reproducing species which threaten the integrity of natural areas. Once established in an area, they can have devastating effects. They often out-compete native species for limited resources including food and habitat, alter and damage existing habitat, displace native species, and in some cases prey directly upon native species. Invasive species have been identified as serious threats to global and local biodiversity.

According to the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA), it has been estimated the damage caused by invasive plants alone costs the U.S. an estimated $34.7 billion a year. Despite the profound impacts of invasive species, WSSA believes the key to being able to manage invasives and prevent their spread is awareness.

February 27 to March 3, 2017, is National Invasive Species Awareness Week and the goal is to draw attention to invasive species and what individuals can do to stop the spread and introduction of them. The program’s website lists several events around the country related to invasive species, including meetings in Washington, D.C.

To help bring local awareness to invasive species, Michigan State University Extension  and Michigan Sea Grant will feature an article on a terrestrial or aquatic invasive species each day that have invaded, or pose a potential threat to invade Michigan’s environment.

Additional information about invasive species can be found at the Extension website.

Read the complete 2017 Invasive Species Series:

Michigan Aquaculture Internship Program

Michigan Sea Grant is offering internship funding to undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career in aquaculture. Students who coordinate with a private, state, or federal hatchery to create a summer internship could receive $5,000 for an internship of at least half-time work. Interested students should submit application materials to a sponsoring faculty member at their home institution.

One student will be selected from each institution and forwarded to Michigan Sea Grant by Friday, March 31, 2017, at 12:00 pm (noon). Final funding decisions will be made at Michigan Sea Grant by April 7, 2017.

Farming for Fish? Webinar will explore how to get started

Webinar series for beginning farmers includes an overview of this fast-growing business sector.

Aquaculture tanks are shown in a recirculating aquaculture facility. Photo: Todd Marsee | Michigan Sea Grant

Aquaculture tanks are shown in a recirculating aquaculture facility. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

A Beginning Farmer webinar series taking place throughout winter and spring 2017, seeks to assist farmers across the country with starting up and improving their agricultural practices. This series of nine webinars includes “Getting Started with Aquaculture.” The aquaculture webinar will be held 7-9 p.m. April 10, 2017. The cost is $10 for individual webinars, or $45 for access to the entire series.

Aquaculture, or fish farming, is the fastest growing sector of the seafood industry. While global demand for seafood continues to rise, wild catch of fish has not increased and, in some cases, it has decreased as wild fisheries have been overharvested. Michigan is well suited for aquaculture with its vast water resources and increasing demand for local agriculture products. The aquaculture industry in Michigan is currently less than a $5 million industry. A recent strategic assessment of aquaculture in Michigan states that there is potential for growth up to a $1 billion industry. Aquaculture in Michigan can be a way to supply high quality locally produced products.

The Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension webinar will introduce a variety of subjects for farmers interested in pursuing the innovative farming techniques of aquaculture. Topics covered will include market demand, types of aquaculture systems, aquaculture facilities in Michigan, and what is needed to start your own facility.

Seminar: Fish Spawning Reef Planning Techniques


This seminar will be held in conjunction with the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) 2017 conference in Detroit. You do not need to register for IAGLR to participate.

A number of factors, including construction of shipping channels, land use changes and dams, have degraded rocky fish spawning habitat or made it inaccessible to native, migratory fish. One method for compensating for spawning habitat losses is to construct fish spawning reefs, essentially beds of loose rock placed on the river bottom that provide adequate protection and flow through the rocks for egg incubation. Though simple in concept, reef projects need to be carefully sited and designed to avoid accumulating sediment, attract desired fish and support young fish through the critical early life stages.

This team- taught seminar will share techniques developed through eight reef projects established in the St. Clair and Detroit River System over the past fifteen years. Specific topics will include: site assessment and selection, hydrodynamics and sedimentation concerns, reef design and construction strategies and monitoring of early life stages of fish.

One highlight of the workshop will be a practical lesson on river hydraulics and sediment transport and a hand-on exercise with free river modeling software, led by a scientist from the USGS Geomorphology and Sediment Transport Lab. This interactive seminar is open to all types of restoration practitioners, including professional engineers, project managers, researchers and anyone hoping to champion, design or monitor a constructed spawning reef in Great Lakes nearshore areas, connecting channels or larger rivers.

Date: Monday, May 15, 2017
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Location: IAGLR’s Great Lakes Research Conference, Cobo Center Room 258, 1 Washington Blvd, Detroit, Michigan
Continuing Education: Seminar participants will receive a certificate showing they completed 7 hours of continuing education suitable for professional license renewals.
Cost: $75 for professionals, $30 for students 
Registration deadline: 5:00 p.m., May 10, 2017
Cancellation: No refunds will be issued for cancellations after May 5.

For professionals ($75):

For students ($30):

For questions, contact:
Lynn Vaccaro
University of Michigan Water Center
(734) 763-0056

Competitive funding available from NOAA Sea Grant for aquaculture initiatives

NOAA Sea Grant welcomes proposals for two competitive opportunities to advance aquaculture research, address barriers to aquaculture, and expand aquaculture production. Up to $15 million is expected to be available over several years to support projects in two nationwide grant competitions. Learn more about the funding opportunities here or at

Individuals, public or private groups, and state or tribal agencies are welcome to apply through their local Sea Grant program. Interested parties in Michigan should contact Catherine Riseng, Michigan Sea Grant’s research program director, at to discuss the application process.

2017 Michigan Seafood Summit

seafood summit logoCobo Center, Detroit, MI

The Seafood Summit highlights aquaculture, commercial fisheries, and local seafood in Michigan.

The 2017 summit will be held in conjunction with 60th Annual Conference of The International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR). It will consist of two main sessions and a special Michigan seafood dinner prepared by acclaimed chefs from The Atheneum.

Did you miss last year’s summit? Sign up for updates so you don’t miss out this year.

Kip Cronk begins Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator duties in the Saginaw Bay District


Kip Cronk, a long-time Bay City resident, has been hired as a Michigan Sea Grant Extension educator in the Saginaw Bay region. He began his new position on January 30, 2017, and works out of the Bay County Michigan State University Extension office.

Cronk fills the position held previously by Katy Hintzen, who left recently to join Hawaii Sea Grant. Cronk will continue to focus on working with coastal communities, students, teachers, and the public, as well as businesses in the Saginaw Bay region to apply science-based knowledge to address Great Lakes, Lake Huron, and Saginaw Bay issues.

“We are excited to have Kip joining Michigan Sea Grant and MSU Extension,” says Heather Triezenberg, Michigan Sea Grant Extension program leader. “Kip has a track record of working collaboratively with many partners and will bring that skill to the Saginaw Bay region. His experience as an environmental quality analyst will also allow him to offer his technical expertise to develop education programs to benefit the community and environment.”

“Kip will be an excellent addition to our team,” says Bill Taylor, Michigan Sea Grant’s associate director. “His training in environmental studies, Earth science, and secondary education, and his practical work experience with the state and nonprofit organizations in the Bay City area will help him deliver impactful Sea Grant Extension programming.”

Cronk, originally from Ann Arbor, spent a year in Alaska as an aquatic ecologist and education coordinator for the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council before returning to Michigan. He joined the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in Bay City as a field biologist and also served as an environmental quality analyst.

Most recently Cronk has been the coordinator for the Saginaw Bay Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, a group that promotes invasive species education and outreach, invasive species inventory and prevention, and invasive species management activities.

“I am super happy and excited to be joining this team,” Cronk says. “Michigan Sea Grant has a wonderful reputation as a partner who helps get things done. I’m looking forward to developing new programs and opportunities in the Saginaw Bay region. Having Michigan State University and University of Michigan as resources in my tool chest is a dream opportunity for me as an educator.”

Cronk received his bachelor degree from Eastern Michigan University in Earth Science and Secondary Education. He was lead Earth science teacher at Langley High School in McLean, Virginia. Cronk received his master’s degree in Environmental Studies and Resource Management and Administration from Antioch New England Graduate School.

“Kip brings a wide range of experience that will benefit the communities in the Saginaw Bay area,” says Dave Ivan, director of the MSU Extension Greening Michigan Institute. “We look forward to the new ideas and opportunities he will bring.”

In addition to his love of fishing, boating, swimming, and just generally being outdoors, Kip also enjoys gardening. He took a Master Gardener class through MSU Extension and loves using native plants in his garden. “Also, taking that class got me to try different varieties of vegetables as I was growing them,” he says.

“Conserving water for future generations is one of my personal goals,” Cronk says. “In ninth grade I had a science teacher who inspired me to want to be a teacher. I love to do the educational part. And that’s why this job is a dream job, dealing with education and outreach.”

Contact Kip at:

Michigan State University Extension
Michigan Sea Grant
Bay County Building
515 Center Ave., Suite G102
Bay City, 48708
(989) 895-4026 ext. 6