Michigan’s plan to reintroduce Arctic grayling to state waters is taking a big leap forward, courtesy of some generous donors and partners.
Plans are under way to install an ultraviolet water disinfection system at the DNR’s Oden State Fish Hatchery in Emmet County. The system, which should be in place by mid-August, is critical for both cultivating Arctic grayling and other fish broodstock – mature fish used for breeding – and ensuring waters receiving those fish are protected from potential pathogens (things that can cause disease).
“We are grateful for the outpouring of support to bring this upgrade to Oden State Fish Hatchery, where protecting water quality is key to sustaining healthy fisheries across the state,” said Ed Eisch, manager of the DNR Fish Production Program.
The state of Alaska is providing Michigan with three “year classes” of wild Arctic grayling eggs. A year class is a group of fish of the same species and strain that hatched in the same year. Michigan’s first year class of eggs was collected in early May 2019 at the Ruth Barnett Sport Fish Hatchery in Fairbanks, Alaska, with fish caught out of the Chena River. The eggs were collected by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, with assistance from Michigan DNR staff. Michigan State University PhD candidate Nicole Watson brought back enough eggs – roughly 10,000 – to run her second year of experiments and produce the state’s first year class of broodstock.
Many of those eggs initially will be reared in isolation at the Oden hatchery. Once cleared by fish health testing, they’ll be transferred to Marquette State Fish Hatchery. During broodstock development, scientific evaluations will continue on the Manistee River and begin on the Jordan, Maple and Boardman rivers to determine suitability for reintroduction.
More than $350,000 was raised to upgrade Oden’s isolated rearing facility, including engineering and construction costs. Major gifts were granted by Henry E. and Consuelo S. Wenger Foundation, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Trout Unlimited, the DNR, Rosso Family Foundation, Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, Oleson Foundation, Rotary Charities of Traverse City, Friends of the Jordan River Watershed and supporters of the Little Traverse Conservancy.