Inland Fisheries Objectives

The Inland Fisheries Program is designed to preserve, protect and enhance the Tribal Fishery while providing subsistence fishing opportunities to LRBOI Membership. Through ongoing biological assessments, Tribal outreach activities, inter-agency cooperation, and litigation support, the right of Tribal fish harvest is promoted. Special focus is given to culturally significant animals, such as, doodem

(clan) fish and those historically harvested, to assure that these populations are healthy and abundant. Another primary objective is to maintain biologically sound harvest opportunities within Reservations and 1836 Ceded-Territory. This is accomplished by performing fishery assessments on numerous species both in lakes and rivers. An important component of the LRBOI cultural identity is defined by inland fishing. LRBOI members harvest fish and eat fish, a lifeway that the Inland Fishery Program aims to preserve, protect and enhance.

Summary of Activities

  • Inland Lake Fisheries Assessments:  The Inland Fisheries Program of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (LRBOI) Natural Resources Department (NRD) annually conducts fisheries assessments on inland lakes within the 1836 Treaty Ceded Territory. The goal of the inland lake fisheries assessments is to provide the NRD with quantitative information on the fish community in surrounding lakes. These assessments enable the Inland Fisheries Program to monitor fish communities and evaluate changes over time.
  • Nmé (Sturgeon) Research and Rehabilitation:*  The Tribe has taken a leading role in nmé (lake sturgeon) research and rehabilitation.  Because Tribal membership and government identified nmé as an important management species the Department focuses efforts consistent with the Tribal Nmé Stewardship Plan.  Surveys have been conducted since 2002 in the Manistee River. The Manistee nmé population is very small, so the Department is operating the first ever portable Streamside Rearing Facility where young nmé are reared to a size where their survival is greatly increased, and released back into the river. Because of the Tribe’s facilities success there are four other sturgeon rearing facilities being operated in the Lake Michigan Basin by other agencies.
  • Walleye and Northern Pike Recruitment Assessments:  Since 2004, fall recruitment assessments have been conducted annually by the Inland Fisheries Program of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (LRBOI) Natural Resources Department (NRD).  These studies determine the variability in walleye and northern pike production across years.  Fisheries managers use data collected from recruitment surveys to assess stocking methods, management actions, and long-term trends in fish abundance.  The primary objective of the fall recruitment surveys is to determine the relative abundance of age-0 and age-1 walleye (Sander vitreus) as an index of year class strength.  A secondary objective is to determine the relative abundance of age-0 and age-1 northern pike (Esox lucius).  Lake selection is based on results from Natural Resources Surveys distributed by the LRBOI NRD, fishing pressure, proximity to the 1836 and 1855 LRBOI Reservations, location within the 1836 Treaty Ceded Territory, and previous work conducted by other agencies.
  • Watershed Initiative Restoration Projects*
  • Harvest Monitoring
  • Fish Contamination Testing*
  • Monitoring of stream fish populations, including salmon and trout*
  • Participate in nmé Cultural Context Task Group
  • Burbot Research:  LRBOI has recently initiated research to understand how and when burbot are using the Manistee River watershed. Adult burbot migrating into the Manistee River were first captured using live traps during January 2014. Future research will continue to assess the timing of the spawning run, and in addition will assess habitat use, movement, spawning location(s), and spawning population size.

* In collaboration with the Water Quality Program

Tribal Outreach

Involvement of the Tribal community is important to and incorporated into the Inland Fishery Program through outreach programs. These programs are designed to establish interaction and dialogue between membership and fishery staff, inform members of harvest opportunities, and exchange questions and information regarding fishery issues. Programs include Nmé (sturgeon) Youth Day, Nmé Cultural Context Task Group and membership surveys.

Inter-Agency Cooperation

Fishery staff participates in inter-agency cooperative efforts and meetings where important management decisions are made. Organizations include the US Forest Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency, local watershed partnerships and the Lake Michigan Lake Sturgeon Task Group. Inland Fishery staff, along with the Water Quality program, promote Tribal resource stewardship and management by giving presentations to various Universities, local schools, watershed groups, scientific committees and sportfishing groups.

Informative Link