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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fair Thee Well Alicia Rae

Rat recently swam over to Milwaukee and from the harbor watched as the Alicia Rae, the last working commercial fishing boat in Milwaukee, left Milwaukee for good.

Lake Michigan has been evicting commercial fishers for many years. The lake’s ecology keeps changing with the continued introduction of invasive species mostly by way of ballast water in large Great Lakes shipping vessels. It’s difficult to blame just one culprit since the story of various species invading Lake Michigan waters and the resulting rise and fall of dominant fish populations is beginning to read like a volume on European history.

But if Rat were to point a pointy-clawed digit at today’s main offender, I would come up 900 trillion digits too few, for those quagga mussels sure are prolific little buggers. I should say prolific little morsels, but my poor belly hurts just looking at them all.

Dan Egan wrote a bittersweet piece in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about Dan Anderson, the captain of the Alicia Rae, and his story of leaving the Lake Michigan fishery behind. Or as Dan put it, “The lake left me. It’s gone.”

The rivers that Rat calls home, like Lake Michigan, could use some help battling invasive species, and someone could really lend a paw to help battle all that oppressive algae that’s been blooming this summer. (Not to mention my fur; it’s startin’ to stink!) After all, we wouldn’t want to read stories of businesses people dependent on rivers saying things like, “The river left me. It’s gone.” Would we?

Photo: Satellite view of an algae bloom in Castle Rock Lake on the Wisconsin River. Courtesy of UW SSEC and WisconsinView

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