Zebra Mussels, Lake Huron & Future of Salmon Fishery

Salmon fishing in Lake Huron hasn’t been great recently, due to the decline in prey base. The prey populations are being decimated by invasive species like the zebra mussel, leaving little food for the salmon.

Eric Sharp in the Detroit Free Press writes:

“But new data developed by a University of Wisconsin biologist suggests the problem isn’t over-predation by salmon but a collapse at the bottom of the food chain caused by invasive European mussels. That theory says that huge amounts of energy that once produced tiny crustaceans and fish, which in turn fed slightly larger fish like juvenile alewives, now go into producing zebra and quagga mussel shells and get locked up on the bottom of the lake.

“If that theory is correct, biologists say a recovery of Lake Huron’s salmon to previous levels is unlikely unless a way is found to drastically reduce the number of mussels. Other big predators, such as lake trout and walleyes, are more opportunistic feeders and will increase in numbers. But chinooks, which single-mindedly hunt alewives, can’t return to levels without vast numbers of baitfish that roam the top levels of the open lakes.”

The zebra mussel continues to wreak havoc, and Congress continues to delay. It’s time that stand up for the people who depend on the lakes.

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