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Biological Services Department
The Bay Mills Fisheries program has an overall mission to ensure the responsible management and protection of the commercial fishery in the 1836 treaty ceded waters of the upper Great Lakes. In August 2000, Bay Mills entered into a Consent Decree with four other Michigan tribes, the State of Michigan, and the United States of America to cooperatively manage the fisheries resources of the Great Lakes waters of the 1836 treaty. As a result, the Technical Fisheries Committee was created to oversee monitoring, develop population estimates, and make management recommendations. A Modeling subcommittee was also created to assist with development of these estimates.
Bay Mills fisheries staff also monitor commercial and subsistence fishing by its members. Mandatory catch reports for both activities are collected and tracked by fisheries staff. Catches of commercial and subsistence fishers are sampled by staff at landings or onboard fishing boats.
These data sets are used to monitor fish populations and make informed management decisions. Fisheries staff conduct several other types of surveys on Lake Superior and Lake Huron:


  • Pre-recruit lake whitefish surveys (annual on Superior, Huron)
    • Goal is to monitor trends in abundance of sub-legal (< 17 inch) lake whitefish, evaluate recruitment, and predict contributions of year classes to future harvests. Whitefish Bay & Upper St. Marys River assessments (3 per year)
  • Annual spring lake trout assessment (Lake Superior)
    • Biological information on lake trout is used for harvest limit estimates.
  • Diet analysis is also performed for several types of lake trout.
  • Lake whitefish assessment project (Lake Superior)
    • Data are used for evaluating abundance and population characteristics of lake whitefish in each management unit of the Great Lakes.
  • Waishkey Bay fish community assessment project (Annual)
    • Rough fish (common carp, suckers, bullhead), sunfish, rock bass, walleye, yellow perch, northern pike, and smallmouth bass are typically caught in this assessment.
Bay Mills fisheries staff have also been actively involved in cormorant assessment control since 2003. Double-crested cormorant populations have been increasing in the Great Lakes basin over the last three decades. Cormorants compete with humans for fish resources and outcompete other indigenous birds for nesting habitats. They seriously debilitate plant communities where they nest.


Control programs seek to reduce effects of cormorant populations through harassment and culling of adults and oiling of eggs.   For more information about this program, contact Bay Mills Biological Services.
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