Debate over Great Lakes fish farms heats up as state considers first permits

Nov 3, 2015

Proponents say expanding the aquaculture industry could be an economic boon for the state, but some environmentalists worry that it could have an impact on water quality and wild fish populations. We talk with Dan Vogler of Harietta Hills Trout Farm and Bryan Burroughs of Michigan Trout Unlimited.

Should Michigan allow commercial fish farms in the Great Lakes? That’s a question state officials are grappling with right now. Proponents say Michigan, with its rich water resources, could be a leader in responsible net-pen aquaculture. But opponents say the possible economic gain isn’t worth the environmental risks.

Some state lawmakers, including Republican Sen. Rick Jones from Grand Ledge, are hoping to ban commercial fish farms from operating in the Great Lakes or any of their connecting waterways.

Current State speaks with Dan Vogler, owner of Harietta Hills Trout Farm, which operates on the AuSable River. He says that net-pen operations can be a safe and sustainable form of aquaculture. We also talk with Bryan Burroughs, executive director of Michigan Trout Unlimited, which supports a ban on Great Lakes fish farms.

This segment is supported by Michigan State University's Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. More news about the Great Lakes environment can be found at and on Current State every Tuesday as part of our partnership.