Fishing decline hits Great Lakes communities

LANSING – As the number of active state-licensed commercial fishing operations dwindles on the Great Lakes, their downward spiral signals a change in culture as well as economics and environment, according to Laurie Sommers, a folklorist and historic preservation consultant.

“A few commercial fishermen still make a good living, but Great Lakes ecosystems are in crisis,” said Sommers, the author of a new book about the Leelanau Peninsula area known as Fishtown.

“The fish are disappearing, and with them the commercial fishermen,” she wrote in “Fishtown: Leland, Michigan’s Historic Fishery” (Arbutus Press, $19.95). Lake Michigan, for example, has only seven state-licensed operations left. Among the reasons: “Biologists point to a combination of factors affecting the fish population: habitat, infectious diseases, pollution, global warming and changes in the food web due to invasive species.”

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