Upwellings December 2003

Great Lakes Education and Technology

It’s never too early (or too late, for that matter) to introduce someone to the wonders of the Great Lakes. Sometimes all it takes is a single event—the first yellow perch landed on a homemade fishing line or the gentle rocking of a sail boat on Lake Michigan—that sparks a lifetime of enthusiasm for our freshwater seas.

Other times, as educators know, it takes considerably more effort to develop the right blend of experiential learning and follow-up lesson plans to effectively teach a scientific concept. Recognizing this challenge, Sea Grant programs across the nation are increasingly using technology to make the best science-based information on the oceans and Great Lakes available to the widest audiences.

A good example is the recent online research expedition sponsored by the University of Delaware Sea Grant program. An international team of scientists has been conducting research at hydrothermal vents in the Pacific Ocean, about 1,100 miles off Costa Rica. An educational component enabled classrooms to “dive in” to the research via an interactive Web site: http://www.ocean.udel.edu/extreme2003. The program involved nearly 46,000 students in classrooms across the United States and in Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan. Thousands of students also participate each year in the well-known JASON Project, a real-time science teaching and learning program. The program reaches students via satellite or the Internet and offers a first-hand view of scientific research.

Closer to home, Michigan Sea Grant’s own educational objectives are to:
1) Lead Great Lakes science education initiatives for a variety of audiences. (2) Increase access to science education through the use of state-of-the art technology tools, and (3) Identify new opportunities for partnership with Michigan universities, state agencies and non-government organizations.

In this special online issue of upwellings, Michigan Sea Grant reaches beyond local and regional borders by adapting Great Lakes educational concepts for the World Wide Web. The lessons focus on water clarity, oxygen and carbon dioxide, weather and water temperature, and the aquatic food web. The educational lessons were drawn from the Great Lakes Education Program curriculum, which was assembled and reviewed in 1999 by more than 50? Michigan educators. Each of the online lessons meets state educational standards and uses colorful graphics and informative sidebars to help explain fundamental lake concepts.

Additional lesson plans covering basic wetland concepts and biological control are available on the Purple Pages, the web site for the Purple Loosestrife Project, a hands-on program for educators and their students. Additional features of Michigan Sea Grant’s educational site provide information on Great Lakes camps and programs, grants and fellowships and web links to some of the key environmental education organizations within the state, region and nation.


Clean Marinas: Worth the Investment

Pollution prevention and waste reduction are two strategies that marinas can employ to protect water quality and save money.

The activities are among many best-management practices presented to marina operators in early December as part of the official kick-off of the Michigan Clean Marina program. The program was unveiled at the 2003 Recreational Boating Educational Conference held in Mt. Pleasant.

“We’re very encouraged about the positive response from Michigan’s boating community,” said Michigan Sea Grant’s Chuck Pistis. “Ten marinas have already pledged their support to become Clean Marina partners and take the steps necessary to be eventually designated a Clean Marina.” Pistis introduced the program with Jeff Spencer of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Steve Remias of MacRay Harbor and Van Snider of the Michigan Boating Industries Association (MBIA).


After pledging program support, marinas will receive a comprehensive clean marina guidebook (currently in production), which describes cost effective management strategies that marinas can adopt to promote environmental stewardship. Marinas follow ten basic steps to receive Clean Marina designation that include workshop training and site evaluation. The ten steps are summarized in a new Clean Marina brochure produced by MDEQ, MBIA and Michigan Sea Grant.

Benefits of becoming a Clean Marina include reducing pollution and improving water quality in the Great Lakes, protecting fish and wildlife habitat, enhancing public image by promoting environmentally-sound practices and saving money by adopting cost-effective best management practices.

The Clean Marina program is initially targeted to commercial and public boating facilities and will be eventually extended to boaters and other related industries.


Michigan’s Charter Fishing Industry Bounces Back: Greater Revenues, Larger Boats but Fewer Captains

Michigan’s charter fishing industry is generating greater revenues than it did eight years ago, despite having fewer captains, according to a report recently released by Michigan Sea Grant and produced by the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network.

The state’s 468 charter captains received an estimated total of $10.1 million in fees in 2002, compared with an inflation-adjusted estimated $6.7 million for 543 captains in 1994.
The 274 Lake Michigan-based charter fishing firms had the largest estimated total sales at $5.1 million, followed by lakes Erie/St. Clair, Lake Huron and Lake Superior.

Salmonids — lake trout, salmon and steelhead (rainbow trout) — were the most popular species sought in 2002, the targets of 21,399 trips.

“The Great Lakes sport fishery has rebounded from its low point in the early 1990s when disease was rampant in salmonids,” says Chuck Pistis, Sea Grant Extension agent and co-author of the report. “The economic investments in and contributions of the charter fishing industry mirror the recovery in the Great Lakes fishery during that time.”

Pistis says that charter fishing clients also contributed significantly to the economies of Michigan’s coastal communities in 2002, spending an estimated $19.8 million on food, lodging and other local purchases in Michigan’s Great Lakes ports.

Nineteen percent of the captains responding to the survey rely on charter fishing as their primary livelihood, up from 13 percent in 1994, and 52 percent rated it as a secondary source of income in 2002, down from 66.5 percent in 1994. Almost 60 percent of captains plan to increase the number of trips they make over the next five years, but 18 percent plan to quit the business during that time.

Responding captains indicated that the most important concerns facing their industry are the economy, the impacts of exotic species, boating equipment/operating costs and the lack of fish/reduced fish abundance.

The Michigan industry compares well with those in other Great Lakes states. Michigan generated almost 30 percent of the total $34.5 million charter fishing revenue in the U.S. Great Lakes region, and the value of its charter boats and equipment was $49.1 million, almost 28 percent of the $178 million regional total. The average boat is longer by 1 foot than the average in 1994.

The state’s charter fishing fleet of 468 operations is the second largest in the Great Lakes to Ohio’s 794, followed by New York (305), Wisconsin (258), Illinois/Indiana (64), Minnesota (44) and Pennsylvania (28).

“The survey is a great asset to all charter boat captains and the ports that they work out of,” said Frank English, president of the Michigan Charter Boat Association. “The information is invaluable.”


Luring the Sea Lamprey

Weiming Li of Michigan State University discusses pheromone research as a promising strategy to help control the invasive sea lamprey in the Upper Great Lakes. Li was the third speaker in the Fall 2003 Great Lakes seminar series held at the University of Michigan. The series began in October with Claire Schelske, past president of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, who spoke on cultural eutrophication in the Great Lakes. Chris Goddard, Executive Secretary of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, discussed fisheries management and restoration on Nov. 6. The research seminar series was sponsored by Michigan Sea Grant and the UM School of Natural Resources & Environment.