After months of planning and considerable consultation, innovative project to pass
fish and block invasive species is revealed
Detroit, MI - May 29, 2019 - The Great Lakes Fishery Commission unveiled the final
design for the innovative "FishPass" project today during its 64th annual meeting,
held in Detroit, Michigan. FishPass, which will be located on the Boardman River
in Traverse City, Michigan, is a project aimed at solving one of the world's most
difficult fishery management challenges: how to pass fish around barriers and dams
while still blocking harmful species like sea lampreys. FishPass is the capstone
of a 20-year whole-river restoration project on the Boardman River. Photos from
today's unveiling are overleaf.
Jim McKane, the Commission's chair, explained: "Tens of thousands of dams fragment
habitat throughout the Great Lakes basin. This fragmentation is not always conducive
to fishery restoration or management. That said, those dams also block invasive
sea lampreys, each one of which will destroy 40 pounds of Great Lakes fish. The
Great Lakes Fishery Commission believes technology can be developed to have it both
ways: to automatically sort a mixed assemblage of fish so that desirable species
can pass an obstruction and destructive species like sea lampreys can be stopped."
FishPass will be constructed on the Boardman River in downtown Traverse City at
the location of the existing, but deteriorating, Union Street Dam. It will consist
of a sea lamprey barrier just upstream of the to-be-removed dam, a channel downstream
of the sea lamprey barrier to test fish-sorting techniques and technologies, and
a natural river channel for recreation and normal river flow. The location also
will be an improved city park so that visitors can observe the "living laboratory"
that FishPass will provide.
Many of the FishPass Partners were on-hand for today's unveiling. In addition to
members of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, officials present included Jim Carruthers,
mayor of Traverse City; Mark Wilson, a councilor for the Grand Traverse Band of
Ottawa and Chippewa Indians; Marty Coburn, city manager of Traverse City; Gary Whelan,
program manager for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Frank Dituri,
director of public services for Traverse City; Carl Platz, Great Lakes program manager
for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and Brett Fessel, a biologist with the Grand
Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.
"The final design for FishPass reflects the project's engineering requirements,
the agencies' fishery management goals, and the community's desires," said Doug
Stang, the Commission's vice-chair. "The Commission and its partners have held scores
of public meetings and workshops over the past few years to ensure the project is
sound and is a welcomed addition to Traverse City. The design unveiled today demonstrates
we have hit the mark—a project where form meets function and has the potential to
change the way fisheries are managed, both in the Great Lakes basin and worldwide."
The Army Corps of Engineers, in collaboration with the firm AECOM, developed the
FishPass design with input from the partners and the community. Construction of
FishPass should begin in early 2020. For more information about FishPass, and to
see the final design, visit