Fisheries and Aquaculture

Great Lakes fisheries are intricate webs of fish populations, their aquatic environments, and the people who use and enjoy them. These fisheries are important parts of the life of the Great Lakes.

The story of the Great Lakes fishery is a complex interplay of biodiversity, water quality, environmental degradation, and regional rehabilitation. People interact with Great Lakes fishery resources in many different ways. Recreational and commercial fishing are a vital part of Michigan’s heritage, with the fisheries valued in excess of $4-7 billion annually. Subsistence and tribal fishing, as well as aquaculture, also play important roles.

High-quality habitat is essential  to sustaining the Great Lakes fishery. Habitat can be affected by disturbances in the physical, chemical, and biological environment, such as water level fluctuations and pollution. The two nations, eight states, and one province that border the Great Lakes are responsible for implementing and enforcing water quality laws to maintain good water quality and healthy fish populations.

Managing these dynamic and essential resources requires a solid scientific foundation. Fishery researchers seek to understand the structure and interactions of fish, aquatic resources, and their uses and users. Fishery managers translate data and information about humans, aquatic creatures, and habitats into strategies for ensuring stable, healthy fisheries into the future.

Michigan Sea Grant supports the region’s fisheries by teaching children and adults to value their connections to the lakes, by funding research that helps stakeholders and managers better understand the fisheries, and by continuing to ask and learn about emerging fisheries issues. Michigan Sea Grant has produced four editions of The Life of the Lakes: A Guide to the Great Lakes Fishery, a colorful, detailed handbook about the past, present, future, and composition of Great Lakes fisheries.