BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
After a few glitches in its initial weekend of trying to provide a state of the art Barracuda fish cleaning facility at the Mazurik Access Area on Marblehead, the Ohio Division of Wildlife says it has solved its problems just in time for the popular summer walleye fishing on Lake Erie.
The Mazurik Access Area is under the East Harbor State Park umbrella, and it is one of the busiest public fishing and boating facilities in Ohio. When the Barracudas made their debut recently, anglers quickly jammed the high-tech grinders and rather than find another site for fish cleaning, left piles of fish heads and entrails all over the facility.
It was obvious that fishermen needed more directions before using the Barracudas, and the ODOW and the facility needed much more monitoring — as well as staffers to make sure a 5,000-gallon tank handling entrails and water needed to be diligently emptied throughout the day.
“With anything new like this, we’ve got to create more signage on how to use it, and limit the amount of water flowing into the unit and on to the holding tank,” said Scott Hale, the executive director or fish management for the ODOW. “We’ve got it under control now, with seasonal employees monitoring the fish cleaning station and making sure the holding tank is emptied when needed.”
Two improvements had been made to the Mauzuril Access Area over the winter. The Barracuda facility was installed, as well as a brick-and-motor restroom to replace the dreaded porta potty in place. The restrooms have received positive reviews, and now that the Barracuda facility is working properly, it should be able to solve the local problem with fish guts.
While fish cleaning services are available in the popular Lake Erie fishing area, many fishermen drew the ire of hotels, motels and campgrounds by filleting their fish and improperly disposing of their fish guts, which can quickly foul the air when they decompose.
“We’ll be monitoring (the Barracuda units) to make sure everything is working properly,” said Hale. “Area Manager Mike Wilkerson of District 2 will have seasonal employees checking in throughout the day, especially on busy weekends. There is a certain way to operate the Barracudas, and we want fishermen to closely follow the instructions that are now posted.
“We’re going to be sure the fish cleaning facility is kept clean, and there is no smell.”
The ODOW also installed Barracuda fishing cleaning stations at boating access locations on the Huron River and at Avon Lake on the Lake Erie shoreline. The Barracuda facilities cost about $500,000 each, paid for from the ODOW’s small share of the Ohio gas tax to fund for boating and fishing projects and expenses.
A major part of the problem is that the fish slurry produced by the Mazurik fishing cleaning stations can’t be flushed down the sewer and off to the Ottawa County Sewage Treatment Plant.
“Our nearest sewage treatment plant is five miles away, and the sewer lines have to be vented,” said Ottawa County Sanitary Engineer Kelly Frey. “If the sewer flow contains organic fish slurry and its flow is comprised, the odor from the sewers in residential and commercial areas can be terrible.”