MANISTEE — For the first time in nearly 17 years, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (LRBOI) will be conducting an assessment of the Manistee River adult spawning population of lake sturgeon.
In the Anishinabek language, sturgeon is known by the name of nmé and is the grandfather fish. Today the North American temperate freshwater fish is a protected species.
The assessment is part of the LRBOI’s Natural Resources Department’s stewardship plan to rehabilitate the population of lake sturgeon. According to the tribe’s Natural Resources Department, the assessment activity is to obtain information about the Manistee River adult spawning population of lake sturgeon and to investigate if there are any returning individuals from the Tribe’s Streamside Rearing Facility (SRF) efforts.
The study began on Wednesday and will be conducted through the end of April, based upon previously documented sturgeon presence within Manistee Lake.
“The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians made it a priority to assess the lake sturgeon population,” said Frank Beaver, director of the LRBOI’s Natural Resources. “We will share this data with other agencies and organizations interested in the outcome of the project.”
The spawning migration of lake sturgeon will be assessed within Manistee Lake for the population staging to migrate up the Manistee River. Large mesh gill net sets will be utilized for assessment activities. The large mesh gillnetting will be within Manistee Lake near the river mouth to gather preliminary adult sturgeon data for 2017.
The assessment gill nets will be set in the evening and lifted in the morning with approximately 12 to 14 hours of soak time. Fish will be allowed to recover in an onboard tank or boat-side cradle until release.
Late last year, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians originally proposed an anchoring system for a temporary resistance board weir downstream from Manistee County’s Rainbow Bend and requested a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).
While the north side of that particular portion of the Manistee River is owned by the LRBOI, installing the weir would involve anchoring it to Manistee National Forest lands on the south side.
However, after a flood of public comments and concerns about the project, the LRBOI decided to take a step back and re-evaluate.
“We received approximately 66 comments and letters from either individuals or organizations concerned with the project,” said Mark A. Herberger of the USFS. “I can say every comment we received was not in favor (of the weir construction), although many people did say they realize sturgeon is an important fish species that should be studied.This story was originally published by the Manistee News Advocate.