The Keweenaw Bay Tribal Hatchery was established in October 1989 and moved into its present 15 acre location on Pequaming Bay of Lake Superior in March 1993. From 1995 to 2005, the KBIC signed five Memorandum of Understanding agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to temporarily utilize the Keweenaw Bay Tribal Hatchery as a lake and brook trout isolation facility. The operational plan called for the transfer of wild lake trout and coaster brook trout eggs directly to this tribal facility. Once the fish passed a two-year disease clearance period, they were transferred (as future broodstock) to other Federal/State hatcheries.
The KBIC was concerned with population restoration of the brook trout fishery in the western Upper Peninsula and began its stocking program in 1997. Modern management assessments frequently cite poor survival due to the harsh Lake Superior Basin winters as a cause of the decline in this fishery. In response to this, the KBIC has collaborated with Ashland Fish & Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) and the Ottawa National Forest (ONF) to create a Lake Superior basin strain, the Jumbo River brook trout. Wild fish were collected in 1997, 1999, 2005, 2009, and 2011 and developed broodstock are currently being reared within our hatchery facilities. KBIC coordinates with ONF and MDNR on stream stocking and subsequent collections of wild gametes.
KBNRD initiated a walleye rearing and management program in 2009. A designated site for walleye rearing ponds development is located near the Village of L’Anse in Baraga County, Michigan. The walleye rearing ponds consist of two ½ acre ponds, expanding next year to include an acre pond, incubation building, and well. KBNRD intends to continue to manage the local walleye fishery with strategic stockings of walleye.
Ultimately, the goal of Keweenaw Bay's tribal hatchery is to rear native fish (lake and brook trout and walleye) for stocking into Lake Superior and adjacent streams to provide a self-sustaining fishery on the reservation and 1842 ceded waters. Our current production goal is 50,000 lake trout yearlings (6" fish), 40,000 brook trout yearlings, 30,000 coaster brook trout and 50,000 walleye fry annually.
Half of the funds for running these facilities stem from gaming profits, an indication of the tribe's commitment to this fishery. This commitment involves not only re-stocking efforts, but tribal participation in fishery assessments and cooperative work towards achieving a healthy fishery habitat. Keweenaw Bay Tribal Hatchery cooperators have included USFWS, ONF, USDA-NRCS, LVD, CORA, and MDNR.