Alewives were once nuisance non-native species in the Great Lakes.  Now they prop up the lakes' hugely profitable salmon fishery.  Photo: David Jude.

Tenth day of Christmas: Alewives croaking

Editor’s Note: It’s an Echo tradition to revisit one of our favorite holiday stories: Tim Campbell’s The Twelve Days of Aquatic Invasive Species Christmas. Campbell rewrote the lyrics of the holiday tune for the Wisconsin Sea Grant in 2011.  We’re publishing a new verse on each of the actual twelve days of Christmas.  
On the tenth day of Christmas, a freighter sent to me…
Ten alewives croaking – Alewives are one of the few invasive species that foul Great Lakes beaches throughout the summer. Until the introduction of Pacific salmon, alewives died off in such great numbers that tractors were required to remove them from beaches. Salmon now do a great job controlling alewife numbers, but there are still alewife die-offs due to spawning-related stresses.

Special report: The alewife question

Alewives are a Great Lakes invasive fish that baffle native fish reproduction but give imported Pacific salmon — the target of a profitable fishery — something to eat. What’s a Great Lakes fishery manager to do? Sept. 2, 2009
Alewives: Should Great Lakes managers kill ‘em or keep ‘em? Fishery managers have made little progress in restoring lake trout, the Great Lakes’ dominant predator until the species collapsed in the 1940s and 1950s.

Great Lakes fish in the balance; biologists have little control

By Jeff Gillies,
Great Lakes Echo
Sept. 4, 2009
Editors note: This is the final story in a three-part series about the challenges of managing non-native fish in the Great Lakes. Managing invasive alewives in the Great Lakes is like walking a tightrope. Too many stymie native lake trout reproduction. Too few cripple the profitable salmon fishery.

Alewives: The trouble they cause and the salmon that love them

By Jeff Gillies,
Great Lakes Echo
Sept. 3, 2009
Editors note: This is the second of three stories in a series about the challenges of managing non-native fish in the Great Lakes. Pacific salmon, the big money species in the multi-billion dollar Great Lakes fishery, need a feast of alewives to thrive. But alewives are an invasive species that harm lake trout, a native fish that biologists have been trying and failing to re-establish for decades. Alewives keep lake trout down in two ways, said Mark Ebener, fish assessment biologist with the Chippewa Ottawa Resources Authority.