Another Successful Year of Bloater Egg Collections
for Lake Ontario Restoration Project
BY DALE S. HANSON, GREENBAY FWCO
to fertilize them. Credit: Dale Hanson, USFWS
Since 2010 the Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) has been working with commercial fishermen on Lake Michigan to capture spawning bloaters (a species of cisco) during from January through March. Bloater eggs are collected and fertilized right on the boat and shipped overnight to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources White Lake Fish Culture Station. Since 2012, Roger Gordon and Paul Haver from Jordan River National Fish Hatchery in Elmira, Michigan have been instrumental in increasing the fertilization and survival rates of the bloater eggs. These fertilized eggs are the foundation of bloater restoration work in Lake Ontario, a project that is led by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. In November 2012, a small number of juvenile bloater were reintroduced to Lake Ontario, and roughly twenty thousand more juveniles will be released into the lake in 2013.
This winter Green Bay FWCO and Jordan River NFH staff collected roughly 500,000 bloater eggs during sixteen trips. Most of these eggs went to White Lake FCS where a small number will be raised to maturity in a brood stock program as a future egg source. The rest will be raised to the juvenile life-stage and released into Lake Ontario in 2014. Another 50,000 eggs were sent to the US Geological Survey Tunison Lab to support experimental work aimed at increasing the survival rates of larval and juvenile bloater in hatcheries. Egg collections this last winter set the stage for a promising future for bloater restoration in Lake Ontario.