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Big Lake's Fish Population Plummeting

US - The quantity of fish food in Lake Michigan hit a record low for the second straight year in 2007, a trend that could be disastrous for the salmon fishery if it continues.

The volume of all prey fish in the lake -- alewife, bloaters and other small fish eaten by salmon, lake trout and whitefish -- dropped by half, from 61 kilotons in 2006 to 30 kilotons in 2007, according to data compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey's Great Lakes Science Center.

That's the lowest volume recorded since the government began tracking prey fish densities in 1973. Prey fish abundance last year was 92 percent below the record volume of 400 kilotons recorded in 1989, said Chuck Madenjian, a USGS research fishery biologist.