MEC applauds state recommendation to keep fish farms out of the Great Lakes

The Michigan Environmental Council praised a recommendation from three state agencies that Michigan will not allow net-pen aquaculture in the Great Lakes.

Commercial fish farming in the Great Lakes would create serious environmental risks and be expensive for the state to oversee, according to a report issued by the departments of Natural Resources, Environmental Quality and Agriculture and Rural Development.

The recommendation from the agencies is consistent with public opinion on the issue. A recent EPIC-MRA poll found that nearly 7 in 10 Michigan residents oppose proposals to allow aquaculture in the Great Lakes.

Bills to ban net-pen aquaculture in the Great Lakes have been introduced by Rep. Jon Bumstead and Sen. Rick Jones.

"We are pleased to see the state has recognized the unacceptable risks of this type of aquaculture" said Sean Hammond, MEC deputy policy director. "That said, we are concerned about the ambiguity of the status quo and need to see some strong leadership to protect the Great Lakes and Michigan's recreation economy. The Legislature and Governor Snyder should work together to immediately pass an affirmative ban that will keep these risky fish-farming operations out of our lakes for good."

In October a state science panel found that net-pen aquaculture would dump untreated waste directly into the Great Lakes, potentially triggering toxic algae outbreaks; provide a breeding ground for diseases that could spread to wild fish; and allow interbreeding that could encourage the weakening of genetic diversity and traits that help wild fish survive.

The October findings also indicated that proposed fish farms would create, at most, just 44 jobs. For context, Michigan's recreational fishery alone supports 38,000 jobs and contributes $4 billion a year to the economy.



Andy McGlashen
Michigan Environmental Council
(517) 420-1908

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