O.k., so we’re a bit slow on the news… but to provide an update on our post from June 2, 2016, “Fish Farm Fight,” and the lengthy five-year legal battle, in early October of this year the fight to stop a fish farming operation on the East Branch of the famed Au Sable river in Northeast Michigan came to an end… and the fly fishermen/women won, albeit at a price.
The legal battle began when the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality agreed to allow a commercial trout farm to take over the small historic fish hatchery and increase the fish production from about 20,000 pounds a year to 300,000 pounds annually. Once several conservation organizations, led by the Anglers of the Au sable, caught wind, they sued, stating the increase in production would cause irreparable damage to the river’s ecosystem as well as the local economy which relies in part on the patronage from thousands of fly fisherman each year.
The Au Sable River is considered one of the premier trout streams in the Eastern United States, with a robust ecosystem of aquatic and terrestrial insect life which feeds a thriving population of Brook, Brown and Rainbow trout. Because part of the river flows through the hatchery, if the trout farm had been allowed to proceed, the great concern was the massive increase in production would have resulted in an equal amount of pollution to contaminate the river; phosphorous, fish feces,and other waste that could’ve cause algae blooms, decreased oxygen levels, and disease which could have crippled the natural balance of the river.
The settlement includes a payment of $160,000, and the Anglers of the Au Sable will assume operation of the fish hatchery, at its much smaller levels, as a non-profit tourist attraction and local historical landmark.
Clearly a big win for the river, the community, and fly fisherman.
For more information on the Anglers of the AuSable, just click.