Grand Haven Net Pen Project

Beginning more than 20 years ago, the Fisheries Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources 'plants' Chinook Salmon fingerlings at selected sites in early spring.  The Grand Haven Offshore Challenge contributes yearly to the Grand Haven Steelheaders net pen fund, which is used to cover all costs for the net pen project.

Working with volunteers and financial support from the Grand Haven and Grand Rapids Steelheaders and many other local groups, the Fisheries Division rear young Chinook Salmon in net pens in downtown Grand Haven. The fish are held in the pens for 3-4 weeks, being fed three times a day by volunteers. When the fish smolt and lose their parr marks (vertical bars) they are released into the Grand River for their journey to Lake Michigan.

According to DNR data, fish raised in net pens have a higher survival rate then those released directly into the river. Net pen rearing also enables the fish to imprint on the river they are released into, increasing their chance of returning to the river in three years.