Sturgeon for the Shedd
Making the 90-mile drive between Milwaukee and Chicago is generally unremarkable thanks to modern roadways. Yet one recent trip was anything but. That’s because scientist Fred Binkowski from the School of Freshwater Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Wisconsin Sea Grant aquaculture specialist was transporting something very special, something even prehistoric, on that jaunt south on I-94.
In a 300-gallon tank, he was trucking the biological equivalent of 135 million years of Great Lakes ecosystem history in the form of 14 lake sturgeon for public display at the Shedd Aquarium. That display is likely to happen sometime this spring following quarantine for the safety of all the fish already at the Shedd and the new ones soon to take up residence.
Binkowski said, “These fish represent a tale of evolutionary survival, triumph over human callousness, and a renewed commitment to their habitats and health. Taking them to the Shedd Aquarium means that many more people will be exposed to them. People will learn about how sturgeon have been on this planet for millions of years—an important species for Great Lakes ecosystems.”
Binkowski delivered the fish to Jim Robinett at the Shedd Aquarium for display in the facility’s “At Home on the Great Lakes” exhibit.
“Lake sturgeon are an integral part to telling our Great Lakes stories in that gallery,” Robinett said. He is the Shedd’s senior vice president of external and regulatory affairs. He termed lake sturgeon a keystone species in the Great Lakes and said once Shedd guests become interested in and inspired by the fish, “Then you can share conservation messages.”
The new Shedd fish represent four class years—2010-13. Binkowski said he is anticipating they will fare quite well in their new home, a 6,000-gallon tank with a recreated Great Lakes native shoreline.
Tracking the Economic Impact of AOC Cleanup
The environmental impacts of cleaning up one of the 43 Great Lakes areas of concern (AOC) designated by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency are typically easy to spot—cleaner, clearer water, improved vegetation and healthier fish and wildlife populations.
The economic impacts? Well, those are a little trickier to quantify.
But that’s what Jane Harrison, social scientist for Sea Grant, and Catherine Simons, a graduate student working on a Master of Science degree in water policy at UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences, are seeking.
In the fall of 2013, they surveyed 100 anglers fishing in the recently remediated Sheboygan River AOC about the effects, if any, the cleanup had on their fishing experience or decision to fish at the Sheboygan River in the future. They also estimated the economic impact of the average sport fisherman—$152 per day.
Their next step will be to survey waterfront business owners along the Sheboygan River to see if cleanup efforts have inspired them to make new investments in their businesses.
The estimated economic impact of the average sport fisherman—$152 per day.
Since its original designation in 1987, more than $80 million has been spent in the effort to remediate the Sheboygan River AOC, including $5 million spent to dredge contaminated sediment from the river over the past year.
While there are several studies that have attempted to predict the economic benefit of cleanup to an AOC, this study is the first of its kind to ask about the economic benefits after one has been completed. Because the cleanup is so recent, Harrison said this year’s survey is intended to create a baseline comparison to similar surveys planned for 2015 and 2017. That long-term picture will give a clearer sense of the cleanup’s true economic impact.
For a more detailed version of this story, see go.wisc.edu/s6788t.