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      Community set to reel in meals from surplus salmon

      Volunteers will be dishing out some free surplus salmon from the Department of Natural Resource weirs.

      Volunteers will be dishing out some free surplus salmon from the Department of Natural Resource weirs.

      American Canadian Fisheries and area veterans groups we will be distributing fish to the general public at several locations throughout northern Michigan. The cost of distributing the fish is supported by the veterans groups and individual volunteers.

      The surplus salmon community giveaway began four years ago when workers at the weirs discussed what happened to the fish that were harvested.

      As each harvest is conducted the female fish have there eggs removed and the fish are then ground for use in pet foods. The eggs harvested are provided to the DNR to be hatched in the state hatcheries and returned to the rivers. Other eggs are sold for use in the fishing industry as spawn while the bulk of the eggs are sold to be made into food products. The males are harvested for their contribution to the reproductive process but are not cut. These whole male fish may be given away or sold for retail distribution, prior to each harvest local businesses place orders for fish with American Canadian Fisheries. The initial harvest of 4000 coho salmon took place Wednesday. The fish are kept on Ice and the first 500 coho salmon will be distributed thru several regional churches by members of the Patriot Guard Riders and Rolling Thunder on Thursday.

      Several churches in Lake and Manistee Counties will distribute the salmon to needy families on Thursday.

      A second Harvest will occur on Friday with the fish being distributed on Saturday. The locations for Saturday's distribution will be announced Friday afternoon. Since the number of surplus salmon isn't known until the resale distribution is complete, the number of sites cannot be determined just yet.

      The harvest of quality coho and king salmon will last for about a month with harvest occurring intermittently throughout that period. As the fish stay in the warmer waters of the river the meat will begin to soften. When the quality of the fish drop the distribution will stop.The hope is to have 250 salmon at each distribution location. If the schedule distribution time is 1pm volunteers will count the number of people in the line at 1pm and divide that number into the total number of fish to be distributed. Thus if 250 salmon and 50 people in line they may take up to 4 fish each with about 50 salmon kept for late arrivals. In past years 250 salmon can be distributed in about 30 minutes.

      The distribution sites are as follows:

      -Fife Lake: American Legion Post, 10283 M-186 - 12 p.m.

      -Manistee: VFW Hall, 1211 28th St. - 1 p.m.

      -Baldwin: AMVET Post, 1959 W. 24th St. - 1:15 p.m. Anyone wishing to receive fish must have an appropriate container (cooler, tote or garbage bag lined box). Officials do no recommend trying to keep the fish in a garbage bag without support. These fish must be cleaned, cooked or preserved soon after they are handed out. Everything possible is done to preserve the freshness of the fish being given away.

      This is the 4th year the Veterans Groups have distributed fish to the public.