Senators Levin, Stabenow Introduce Bill to Study Impact of Cormorants on Great Lakes Fisheries
WASHINGTON U.S. Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today introduced the Great Lakes Migratory Bird Research and Management Act to study the impact of double-crested cormorants on commercial and sport fisheries in the Great Lakes.
"Congress has authorized tens of millions of dollars for programs designed to restore and protect fish in the Great Lakes," Levin said. "But those efforts could be in jeopardy because of the impact of cormorants on the Great Lakes fisheries. We need the best possible information about this problem in order to ensure a healthy balance between cormorant and fish populations."
"I am proud to have helped secure $475,000 for projects that have successfully decreased the population of cormorants in Michigan," said Stabenow. "This bill will continue these ongoing control efforts, which are critical to our local economy and to the millions of anglers who fish our waters."
Cormorants are dark-feathered water birds with a voracious appetite for alewives, perch and other fish in the Great Lakes. The double-crested cormorant resides throughout North America, but according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the largest concentration of cormorants is in the Great Lakes. Double-crested cormorants are very skilled at diving for fish and their increased population has led to speculation that cormorants are at least partly responsible for declining fish populations near several northern Michigan communities.
The Great Lakes Migratory Bird Research and Management Act would authorize the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to develop a research program on the double-crested cormorant. The Commission would establish a committee to identify existing control tactics and strategies in the Great Lakes region; determine the effectiveness of those tactics and strategies; and compare the tactics and strategies to the known life history of cormorant populations in the Great Lakes. As part of the research program, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission would recommend measures that would provide maximum sustained productivity of fishery stocks.
Representative Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) introduced similar legislation (H.R. 5089) in the House in April.