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Published Dec 13, 2010

The State of Michigan and most of its boundaries are defined by water. The Great Lakes cover approximately 40 percent of the state’s nearly 97,000 square miles of official surface area, and within state borders there are approximately 35,000 ponds and inland lakes and more than 36,000 miles of rivers and streams. Michigan has 3,200 miles of Great Lakes shoreline with Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie.

Over the past 175 years, significant changes have occurred in many of Michigan’s recreationally and commercially important fish populations. These changes have been largely due to the activities of humans. Four main categories of human disruption have occurred within the Great Lakes basin that have affected Michigan’s fisheries:
1. Increased fishing pressure, both commercial and recreational.
2. Intentional and accidental introductions of exotic species.
3. Changes in the land use patterns around the tributaries of the Great Lakes.
4. Physical and chemical changes in the environment caused by changing land use patterns, dams, effluents and atmospheric deposition of contaminants resulting from urban, agricultural and industrial development.

The goal of the Great Lakes Aquatic Gap Program is to map the species distributions and diversity of fish and other aquatic species and their habitats and to identify gaps in the conservation of these species.

For more information about the Michigan Aquatic Gap Program and its contributions to the Great Lakes Aquatic Gap Program, please visit the Michigan Aquatic Gap website.