Michigan fish-sorter has global implications

Great Lakes Echo –

A $20 million test facility used to find how to keep undesirable fish from moving upstream without using a dam is coming to Michigan’s Boardman River.

“I don’t think I’m over exaggerating when I say I think this could help solve a global problem,” said Marc Gaden, communications director for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

The FishPass system will feature one channel for scientists and engineers to experiment with ways to keep undesirable fish out, while allowing desirable ones in. Another channel acts as a control. Researchers will monitor which species of fish pass each channel, telling them which sorting methods are the most effective.

The idea is to find a way to block undesirable species without a physical barrier like a dam. While dams block harmful invasive species, they also restrict movement of native species, which limits their reproduction potential, Gaden said.

The channels will be in downtown Traverse City, downstream from a new dam, so undesirable fish won’t invade the Boardman during testing.

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission will lead the project. It is funded mostly by the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative with other agencies contributing.

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