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New fish sorting system gets grant from state of Michigan

Kim Cronin|
Boardman River Traverse City MI

The State of Michigan on Tuesday granted Traverse City $1.65 million to support an experimental fish passage system.


Developers said the Fish Pass project will be the first of its kind in the world.


Similar to machines that separate paper and plastic recycling, Fish Pass will use technology to separate desirable fish from sea lamprey.


Marc Gaden is with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the group leading the project. He said the process the Commission is developing is similar to the one used in single-stream recycling.


“We throw paper in with the plastic, with the tin, with glass, and the recycling facility has technology that sorts that automatically. What we want to do is exactly the same thing with fish, find some technology that would be able to identify and distinguish species that are cueing around the barrier.”


Gaden said currently the best way to remove invasive species is by using blunt traps and barriers to catch fish. He says if the commission can identify the right technology, Fish Pass could lead to a global change.


“Dams and barriers are one of the biggest fishery management challenges of our time. If we can solve this pass desirable fish pass dams, we believe that once that technology once it has  been identified then it would be exportable not just in the Great Lakes region but throughout the world.”


Gaden said construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2020. He said once Fish Pass is built, the Commission will spend the next decade creating technology to sort out sea lamprey from other fish.