"Our methodology for data gathering has not changed since we started our studies," replied NBS researcher Guy Fleischer in response to comments made by FWS Green Bay supervisor Mark Holey and John Robertson, Michigan's fish chief. "Our bottom trawling studies on Lake Michigan began in 1972 and our acoustic studies began in 1992, and we use both in generating integrated information."
The controversy began last March when Fleischer reported on forage base status at the Lake Michigan Annual Committee Meeting in Duluth. NBS data showed alewives made up 43% of the Lake Michigan forage base biomass, and 80% of that was YOY alewives.
On Aug. 27, speaking at the 127th Annual Conference of the American Fisheries Society, Holey said, and then repeated for this reporter, "NBS data on increased alewife abundance in Lake Michigan is not convincing."
More recently, in an article written for a Michigan anglers' tabloid, Robertson said, "Only 12% of the lake's total fish population by weight is alewife." It seems talking about fish population by weight and forage base abundance is like talking apples and oranges.
Robertson and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources have proposed a reduction of 2 million chinook salmon in Lake Michigan for 1997, and they're trying to convince the angling community and the other Lake Michigan states this is the prudent thing to do.
Fleischer, who was between survey cruises, acknowledged on Oct. 23, increases in alewives "were nothing like last year, but '96 showed some good improvement based on existing acoustic and trawl integrated information."
Fleischer said "we will be presenting the best information available at the spring Lake Michigan Annual Committee Meeting."