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Local News

DNR cancels its shortest fishing season, citing overharvesting concerns and lack of ice

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BY: KYLE DAVIDSON – FEBRUARY 2, 2024

Sturgeon season at Black Lake near Cheboygan is a big draw for anglers, with more than 630 people registering in 2023 for a season that lasted a little over an hour. 

However, anyone aiming to catch one of the six fish authorized for harvest this weekend will have to wait until next year, with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) canceling the 2024 season. 

In a statement released Friday, the DNR shared concerns that marginal ice conditions and depleting ice on Black Lake would lead to an excessive harvest of the fish, with limited numbers of DNR personnel on the ice. This is the first time the season has been canceled. 

Lake sturgeon are one of the oldest species in the Great Lakes, and are considered threatened in Michigan due to habitat loss and overfishing. The DNR has banned commercial fishing of lake sturgeon and closely regulates sport fishing. 

Over the last two decades, the DNR has partnered with Sturgeon for Tomorrow, Michigan State University, Tower-Kleber Limited partnership, the Bay Mills Indian Community, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians on rehabilitation efforts in Black Lake.  

This population has increased through rearing and stocking efforts, research and protecting spawning adult fish, with the DNR saying these trends are expected to continue

In its statement, the DNR said it was too soon to determine if the cancelation of this year’s season would influence the fish harvest limit next year. 

DNR Fisheries Chief Randy Claramunt urged anglers to use caution while on the ice. 

“In addition to protecting the lake sturgeon population, the safety of anglers and staff is critically important,” Claramunt said. “We encourage all anglers across Michigan to use extreme caution while on the ice, as we have been experiencing above-average temperatures.”

This stretch of warm weather was also cited in the recent announcement that the annual wolf-moose count in Isle Royale would be suspended for the first time in more than 60 years. 

Sarah Hoy, the Michigan Tech professor who leads the effort, told the Associated Press the survey was suspended on Tuesday by the National Park Service with warm temperatures making it unsafe for scientists’ ski-planes to land on the ice around the island. 

This article is republished from the Michigan Advance under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.