While lobster fishermen in the Long Island Sound are stubbornly — but just barely — hanging on, people who depended on the fishing stock in the Great Lakes for their livelihood can no longer make it. Lake Michigan is a "liquid desert," reports Dan Egan in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Even the most devoted fishing family Egan can find is sending one of its own up to Alaska, because "he can catch more fish in one day in Alaska than he can catch all winter off Milwaukee."
Although overfishing played a role here in decimating fish populations, the real culprits are the invasive quagga mussels that have colonized the lake's bottom. Usually mussels' ability to filter water benefits watersheds, but quagga mussels filter too much water, eating up all the plankton that the lake's ecosystem had depended on. The upshot, according to Egan:
"It's fair to say that the old food webs, upon which many fisheries were dependent, those food webs don't exist anymore," says Hugh MacIsaac, a professor of biology at the University of Windsor and director of the Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network. "And it seems to me that the people reliant on the old food webs have very insecure futures, simply because the old food webs don't exist anymore."