EcoTrack 11: Millions of fish dying in Lake Erie

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By Chris Vickers - email | bio

Posted by LS

(WTOL) - Lake Erie has more consumable fish than all other Great Lakes combined. The western basin is often considered the breeding grounds for many of those fish.

So why are tens of millions of them being killed each year?

The Maumee River is the most biologically productive river in the Great Lakes. At the mouth of the Maumee, the bayshore power plant is located, and that's raising an environmental issue.

"Unfortunately, years ago a power plant was built at the mouth of the Maumee River in Maumee Bay. That plant, at times of the year takes in the whole Maumee River and goes through it and, on average, it is killing 126,000 fish a day according to company reports," said Sandy Bihn, a western Lake Erie waterkeeper.

That adds up to 46 million fish caught and killed a year according to studies released by the company itself.

"these waters are becoming more stressed and more vulnerable, and these kinds of kills could be a tipping point in our region and that would be very sad," said Bihn.

It's also economically difficult, considering how important the fishing industry is, accounting for $800 million a year in Ohio alone.

Bihn tells News 11, "Spawning season is coming up - the walleye run on the Maumee river, and you know a lot of those fish are going to go through that plant."

Reducing the water intake at the Bayshore Power Plant could be a temporary measure, but the ultimate solution to the massive fish kills may be much more difficult. "They need to put a cooling tower up at the Bayshore location. That will reduce all of this by about 90%. The two nuclear plants use about 50 million gallons of water a day, where this one in much shallower water is using 650 million," said Bihn.

Fish kill meeting

A public meeting on the fish kills will be held Tuesday night, March 3 at Wynn Elementary located at 5224 Bayshore Rd. in Oregon at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit