How Project F.I.S.H. Got Started

"We need to create awareness, provide hands-on exposure, and offer continued contact to fishing activities for Michigan children”
—Governor John Engler
Keeping in mind the diversity of Michigan's population, PROJECT FISH was developed to initiate and provide aquatic education and fishing skills to interested adults and youth. Protecting this vital natural heritage ensures the future of fishing, including natural resource and environmental awareness, responsible behavior, fisheries stewardship, and positive developmental activities for families and the community.

Michigan's PROJECT FISH program works through a statewide committee with representatives from: Michigan 4-H Youth Programs • Michigan State University Department of Community Agriculture Recreation and Resource Studies • Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division and Office of Information and Education • Michigan United Conservation Clubs • Great Lakes tribal communities • Recreation departments, service organizations, sportfishing industries/retailers, volunteers and many others.

"It's programming like this that is a success. Project FISH involves community support, and communities are the foundation to successful education." —Dr. Ron Bacon, Okemos

PROJECT FISH will work with a variety of successful natural resource and environmental curricula . Teachers will come away from workshops with information tied to MEAP and Michigan Model ContentStandards in an exciting and hands-on style. This style will be complimented by the simple fact that, "this stuff is fun, it's a lifelong activity and it will meet local curriculum needs".

PROJECT FISH recieves funding support from the Great Lakes Fisheries Trust . The mission of this Trust is to provide funding to enhance, protect, and rehabilitate Great Lakes fishery resources. The Trust will manage its resources to compensate for lost use and enjoyment of the Lake Michigan fishery resulting from the operation of the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant. The Ludington Pumped Storage settlement is the largest environmental settlement in Michigan history and second only to the Exxon Valdez in U.S. history.


Great Lakes Fisheries Trust Explained:

The Great Lakes Fishery Trust (Trust) was created in 1996 as a part of a court settlement for fish losses at the Ludington Pumped Storage Project hydroelectric facility jointly owned by Consumers Power Company (now Consumers Energy) and the Detroit Edison Company. The facility has operated since 1972 under a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license on Great Lakes bottom lands leased from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). Although both the FERC license and the state lease required measures to prevent entrainment and destruction of fish in the facility, many fish were killed as a result of the operation of the project.

After a decade of negotiations between the state and the utilities failed to eliminate the fish losses at the facility, the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) filed a legal action with the FERC, and in a second action sought regulation of the facility in federal court under the provisions of the Clean Water Act. Subsequently, the state of Michigan filed an action in state court for compensation for fish losses at the facility and intervened in the FERC proceedings seeking the installation of barriers to reduce future damages to Great Lakes fishery resources. The MUCC and NWF, along with the U.S. Department of the Interior and several Indian tribes who also had compensation claims, joined with the MDNR in a comprehensive settlement with the utilities.

The following are the Great Lakes Fishery Trust settlement's major components:

  • A trust is established to manage the assets generated by the settlement
  • A scientific advisory body is established to advise the Trust board and monitor compliance with the amended FERC license
  • The utilities, to minimize fish losses in the future, will maintain a seasonal barrier net to restrict the number of fish entering the facility
  • The utilities will make annual compensation payments, based on the net's effectiveness, to the Trust
  • The utilities, in compensation for past damage to the fishery, will provide increased angler access at the utilities' properties at Harbor Beach, Marysville, Detroit, and Monroe and pay for
    improvements to public access for pier fishing on Lake Michigan at Pentwater, Montague, and Fruitland Township
  • Consumers Energy will deed to the Trust ownership of 10,800 acres of land in Michigan
  • Consumers Energy will deed to the MDNR ownership of 14,000 acres of undeveloped land in Michigan
  • The Trust will use the proceeds from the sale of transferred lands and the compensation payments
    to make grants to governmental units and non-profit organizations for projects to mitigate for the fish losses
  • Grantees will be required to use the funds for projects that benefit the Great Lakes fishery

The Great Lakes Fishery Trust is administered by a six-member board of trustees representing the MDNR, Michigan Department of Attorney General, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, MUCC, NWF, and U.S. Department of Interior; the Tribal Councils of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians have designated provisional trustees. A twelve-member Scientific Advisory Team monitors the effectiveness of the barrier net under the FERC license, and advises the Trust board on projects and the sale of land transferred to the Trust.

The Great Lakes Fishery Trust will provide grant funds to nonprofit organizations and government entities for the following purposes:

    Research projects that benefit Great Lakes fishery resources

    Rehabilitation of lake trout, lake sturgeon and other Great Lakes fish species

    Protection and enhancement of Great Lakes fisheries habitat

    Public education about the Great Lakes fishery

    Property acquisition for the above purposes or to provide access to the Great Lakes

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