Law Enforcement Issues Panel Discussion
Presenters & Panelists: Fred Hnytka (DFO Canada),
Greg Drogowski (Michigan DNR), Todd Schaller (Wisconsin
DNR), Mike Kitt (Wisconsin DNR), Mary Burnham Curtis
(USFWS), Craig Tabor (USFWS), Robert Luke (DFO Canada),
and Don Waukechon (Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin)
Moderators: Lloyd Mohr (Ontario MNR) and Tom Pratt
A group of eight panelists having various expertise
with law enforcement related issues and representing
numerous resource agencies provided answers (A) and
comments (C) to questions (Q) and comments (C) made
by meeting participants. Some of the panelists provided
presentations prior to the Panel Discussion. Abstracts
for those presentations are provided above under oral
presentations for the Lake Sturgeon Legal Issues Section.
Q: Can Todd and Greg comment on the demographics of
their respective fisheries?
A: (Todd Schaller) From the Lake Winnebago spearing
standpoint primarily localized activity, although in
the past probably ten years we’ve seen a few
people coming in from outside the area because of a
change in licenses that we went through. It used to
be a specific sturgeon tag that you purchased that
was included in a bundle package of licenses and when
that occurred we started to see people from other parts
of Wisconsin coming over and participating that had
that [type of] tag. But it is primarily local. We do
have some non-resident activity most of which comes
out of Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota. A lot of our
non-residents were probably born and raised in Wisconsin
but moved away for college or jobs and are just returning
for the social aspect.
A: (Greg Drogowski) In Michigan the illegal take is
or was, for a vast majority local. We did have some
from other parts of the state and the winter spear
fishing season is growing in popularity. I think it
started out more local but now is about 50/50 with
the non-local aspect growing all of the time.
Q: (Amy Welsh) For the Species at Risk Act what criteria
are used for the identification of the designateable
units (DU) or how did you determine what a DU is as
it is listed in the COSEWIC Listing?
A: (Fred Hnytka) I think COSEWIC based it on genetic
analysis. Between last April when they first examined
the status report with certain DUs, then went back
to the geneticists and asked them to do some sort of
analysis to look at the genetic differentiation amongst
stocks. To the best of my knowledge it was done on
A: (Bill Franzin -DFO)There are a combination of factors
involved in a DU. COSEWIC has the water types of Canada
broken up into aquatic eco-zones which are basically
the major watersheds, [which are used] in combination
with where the species is located within Canada and
where the genetics distinguishes major differences
between groups. So with the capabilities that we have,
genetics is a big factor.
Q: (Dan Sheill) From time to time agencies
like to publicize successes and accomplishments and
it is done
in the media, like news papers for instance, stating
that for the first time in decades we have discovered
lake sturgeon spawning in some body of water, and it
will have a map showing where the site is located.
From an enforcement stand point, this concerns me.
What this is doing is advertising exactly where to
go for people that are looking for sturgeon. People
that were probably not tuned in that sturgeon were
starting to come back in certain areas are now going
to go out there and specifically harvest, and we have
given them the exact location and have basically said
that the numbers are coming back and everything is
basically “good to go” [due to the] successes
we have made. I know we want to be public relations
orientated and make sure the public is aware of our
accomplishments. Can I get some feedback from the biologists
and the enforcement group if this is something that
you are all aware of and if this concerns you?
Q: (Lloyd Mohr) I know the conservation officers in
our office have raised the same question. We are in
the age of the internet and we are encouraged to share
information and data on a daily basis to provide the
public with information as to what we are doing. Is
this a concern to the law enforcement group that we
provide a lot of information or that we are encouraged
to provide a lot of information?
A: It is part of the program. Without PR we won’t
get the support and we won’t get funding. The
public needs to know what we are doing out there. We
know it is necessary and it works together; there are
specific instances where we can use the media or public
awareness to protect the resources. I think there are
also benefits where not only are you making people
aware who might be concerned form an illegal harvest
but you are also making people aware from a very concerned
aspect. So I think both sides are becoming aware of
this so you might be telling the bad groups where the
fish are but you’re also telling that good person
that keeps an eye on these fish.
C: (Henry Quinlan) As biologists we often are alerted
to an area or location by locals because they often
know about these places long before we do. So potential
for illegal activity is already there and these articles
in news papers are not likely news to those people.
Word spreads long before we know, certainly on a local
level, but maybe not on a state wide level. It is something
I think we all struggle with.
C: (Rob Elliott) Can we provide a few moments for
those individuals on the panel that did not speak during
the presentation period a few moments to tell a little
bit about the work that they do and the jurisdictions
that they represent?
C: (Robert Luke) I’m stationed out of or Regional
Headquarters out of Winnipeg, MB. The Region I work
is called Central and Arctic which includes Alberta,
Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nunavut and the Northwest
Territories. As a federal fisheries officer we can
be assigned to go anywhere in Canada from the 200 limit
on the east coast to the 200 mile limit on the west
coast and from the North Pole to the border of United
States. The position I am in now is working with the
new Species at Risk legislation but I’m still
a fisheries officer as well as a fish habitat inspector.
I work within a number of different regulatory issues
Q: (Lloyd Mohr) How much time in the last five years
have you spent looking at lake sturgeon?
A: (Robert Luke) The lake sturgeon work that you are
working on here is new to me.
C: (Don Walkashaw) I’m a conservation officer
from the Menominee Tribe. Most of the sturgeon work
is dealing with issuing citations. We started a lake
sturgeon reintroduction program in 1994 so our program
is fairly new and we are learning about it too.
Q: (Lloyd Mohr) How much time is spent for you and
your colleagues working on lake sturgeon?
A: (Don Walkashaw) Probably around 25% of all of our
C: (Craig Tabor) I’m a special agent with the
US Fish and Wildlife Service stationed in Ann Arbor
Michigan. I supervise a group of agents and our area
is all of Michigan and Ohio. We are pretty thinly spread
as has been stated by others. With lake sturgeon not
being a Federally listed species the bulk of the on
the ground enforcement is being done by the states
and provinces. Our opportunity to become involved has
mostly to do with interstate and international trade.
Anticipating your question, my purpose in being here
is primarily to learn more about the species. I am
fairly new to the Midwest and the last five or six
months have been sort of like taking a drink from a
fire hose. We have gotten some case work done in the
last couple of years, some by the states and some by
the Service, and none of it suggests that there is
a significant illegal market for lake sturgeon roe
or meat. However, we do realize that the potential
for exploitation is certainly there and may increase
with the recent ban on Asian and Eurasian Imports.
C: (Lloyd Mohr) I brought the same question to the
attention of our law enforcement agents in my office
in Ontario and unfortunately they also spend very little
time on lake sturgeon unless it is some other problem
and it has been brought to their attention, then they
will devote time and energy to the problem. I see a
lot of contrast here and that some of the very high
profile lake and river systems tend to get a lot of
coverage and yet the rest of the Great Lakes Systems
tend not to. I just wanted to open that up and get
peoples thoughts on that. Is there something that we
as researches and biologists could be doing better
to provide more impetus to your managers to put more
emphasis on lake sturgeon, if it is required?
A: (Todd Schaller) The nature of the beast is that
it takes a high amount of efforts for often times very
little return and we have so many other pressing things.
Until somebody brings it to your attention, it is then
that you realize it is important. You as fisheries
managers, I would think, would have a good relationship
with your law enforcement people. If you see problems
and trends, let them know and work closely with them
because they are, many times, going to have to force
themselves to work on this.
A: In the Oshkosh local area when we had a license
increase we were able to get the license dollars, the
spearing licenses dollars, dedicated specifically to
lake sturgeon work on the Lake Winnebago System. So
you figure a $20 tag with 8000 tags, you do the math.
That really gives us (law enforcement, and Ron Bruch,
our lake sturgeon biologist) a tool and the resource
that a lot of you don’t have access to, allowing
us to do some things that other can’t. How did
we get that rule change made there? It was because
of the public involvement. It was not us, it was not
the DNR, that went to the legislature. It was the people
who support the lake sturgeon spearing in that particular
part of the state.
C: (Robert Luke) Just a clarification, I’m not
the only one that deals with fisheries. Like our counterparts
in the US, there are provincial agency conservation
protection officers that have their own provincial
legislation where they do work with sturgeon. Some
of the Provinces have sport fisheries that catch and
release. There is also a limited commercial fisheries
that deal with sturgeon. Recently, the new Species
at Risk legislation, and the potential listing the
Lake Sturgeon as an endangered species, has brought
this species forward to the national level. This has
brought lake sturgeon into a more public spotlight.
C: (Fred Hnytka) From the SARA (Species at Risk Act)
perspective, if sturgeon gets listed by SARA, as with
each species, it will get high attention. With high
attention comes a lot of resources, and with resources
comes greater public attention and greater public education.
With my experience with other species, it has probably
been one of the most useful parts of SARA.
Q: In Missouri, our largest private fish producer
in the state is doing some aquaculture in some private
lakes. Years ago he actually came to our agency and
volunteered to raise lake sturgeon for our stocking
program. It seemed that this individual was trying
to determine if he could eventually raise a private
stock of lake sturgeon. To my knowledge, there are
no private stocks of lake sturgeon out there. My question
is, do any of you know of where he was likely to get
those fish and if there is a legal network for him
to do that in the United States or Canada?
A: (Fred Hnytka) There is only one that I am aware
of and that is the Rainy River System. I think the
First Nation there raises the lake sturgeon and export
them. That is the only source that I know of.
Q: (Brenda Arshambo) My question is about management
plans. I know Michigan is reviewing their Lake Sturgeon
Rehabilitation Strategy. With regards to that on a
local, state and regional level, is there any effort
to increase or double the fines for illegal harvest
as it relates to caviar supply and demand?
A: (Greg Drogowski) In Michigan, not that I am aware
of as far as increasing fines and penalties.
A: (Robert Luke) Under the Species at Risk legislation,
the fines in Canada are potentially very heavy with
summary conviction up to $300,000 dollars for the first
offence for an individual. For corporate (other than
non-profit), summary conviction fines are not more
than $300,000 dollars.. For an indictable offence,
fines can be upwards of a $1,000,000. For those fish
that are cut up, every piece can be viewed as a violation.
And if you are caught a second time, the fines can
be double. The fines are heavy under the Canadian legislation,
but again, the legislation is fairly new. With other
fish species some of the fines within the last year
and a half have ranged from a low of $5,000 to the
highest of $80,000 for the possession and the sale
of Species at Risk.
A: (Craig Tabor) At the federal level in the US, it
will be on a case by case basis and will depend on
the severity of the offence and how it is charged.
Depending on the offence it could be indictable as
a felony and penalties could range widely. There could
be civil restitution directed toward the victim state
in addition to criminal penalties. If it is a commercial
violation, depending on the dollar amount involved,
penalty amounts can quickly escalate in the sentencing
guidelines that enter into the range where there is
mandatory time served. So it depends, but there is
the possibility for some quite severe penalties in
the US as well.
Q: (Marty Holtgren) As sort of an extension
question: Mary, you gave us a couple of examples in
your presentation about illegal harvest and non-compliance
issues, and you seemed disappointed that some of the
fines seemed to be very small. I know many of us in
this room have also read about caviar where they gave
examples of some pretty severe issues that took place
but the fines levied seemed entirely insignificant
to what the crime was. You have talked about the fines
that are on the books that you could charge and it
certainly doesn’t seem like those are the fines
that are actually levied. How big of an issue do you
see this being and what routes can be taken to make
sure the fines or the non-compliance issues are taken
A: (Mary Burnham Curtis) The fact that the fines are
so low probably just reflects that historically it
has not seemed important to the states, keeping in
mind that the states are primarily responsible for
prosecuting. I know there is an ongoing case between
Oregon and Washington where they have sixty defendants
but have moved through only two or three. And in fact,
we are waiting to prosecute once the state finishes
and I am not sure what they are going to go after.
I do know that at the federal level, like Craig said,
the number of fish that are involved forms the penalty.
So that is what we are interested in looking at the
individual identification because that helps with the
prosecution and the issuing of fines. At the individual
level, for the individuals that were caught at Sacramento,
I think the fines were a paltry sum. This woman was
walking around with $1,200 dollars in cash in her pocket
and she bought the roe from seven individual female
fish with less than $1,200 dollars, and then turned
around and sold the roe and probably made $10,000 dollars,
and was fined $1,000 dollars. So the monetary fine
was insignificant and her jail time was completely
reduced. There is really no legal, healthy deterrent.
As this starts to become a real problem, they are actually
looking at introduction of organized crime. That is
when stuff is really going to hit the fan, because
the Eastern European organized crime is known to be
infiltrating part of this black market and ultimately
that is where the real crimes are going to come from.
Q: (Tim Purdy) I have a question for Robert. If the
local Ministry of Natural Resources deems that there
is a sustainable population of lake sturgeon in Lake
Huron where there is currently the small commercial
harvest and where we are doing the work with lake sturgeon,
if it gets listed as threatened, how can we continue
to do our work or is there a way to get them delisted
for that area?
A: (Robert Luke) Once it is listed, there is still
a process of regulating recovery in the management
plan. If that specific area that you are working or
have a fish quota in is not the problem area, it can
be identified in this recovery strategy saying that
this area does not or will not cause any problems with
the recovery of this stock. It is possible to say that
a certain section of river is not affected. Once it
is in that document, then there are no prohibitions
against the area. The second part of that is if OMNR
managed that fishery as they have previously been licensing
it, under the act could they continue to permit it.
Again because this legislation is so new and there
is no framework or agreements in place, these things
still need to be worked out, but there are avenues.
If it is determined that the stock is at a state that
needs to be recovered, then things could go the other
way with the commercial fishery.
Q: (Tim Purdy) OK two things what takes precedence,
the federal people or the provincial people?
A: (Robert Luke) Under the Species at Risk Legislation,
and as I stated in the presentation, all aquatic species
are the responsibility of the Fisheries Minister. So,
if lake sturgeon are listed federally, they would be
a federal responsibility, but that responsibility can
be handed down to the province.
Q: (Tim Purdy) Will the aboriginal fishery be dealt
with the same way as the current commercial fishery
of Lake Huron?
A: (Robert Luke) I can’t say how it is going
to be dealt with, but again, when it comes to the specifics,
there is going to be consultation. This legislation
now is different from most legislation where we now
have to consult with the users, stakeholders, aboriginal
peoples. For any work being done with any listed species,
we have to consult before any decision is made, and
it will go up to the minister to make the decision
as to how and what action is to be taken.
A: (Fred Hnytka) As you are aware, there are constitutional
issues that relate to First Nations fisheries, and
the federal government is obliged to consult with First
Nations on fisheries issues. They are also obliged
to consult if there is the likelihood of infringement
of a treaty right, and those issues are what we need
to address during that consultation period. Again this
woud indicate that we would need an extended consultation
period for the lake sturgeon.
Q: (James Boase) How will these COSEWIC changes affect
the ability of researchers to conduct their research
in locations like the Detroit and St. Clair rivers
that are shared by both the US and Canada?
A: (Fred Hnytka) The answer to that is maybe. As before,
there would have to be a permit issued to conduct scientific
research for work related to the recovery of a species.
At this current point, it would have to be obtained
from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. However,
at the same time we are trying to negotiate agreements
with the provinces whereby the provinces would be able
to issue those permits - but we are not at that point
C: (Don Walkashaw) I work on a federal reservation
and work with the US Fish and Wildlife Agents and we
turn cases over to them in their office in Milwaukee.
It is there that they determine if they will move forward,
and it seems to be on a case by case basis. The way
that things are going now, they seem to have the attitude
that other things are more important. So it is hard
to get any convictions going against these individuals.
Q: Do you have a target for recovery and if so how
will you know when it is achieved?
A: (Fred Hnytka) We are a little ways from that at
this time. Again, remember the species is not yet listed
and that will not be determined until 2009 at the earliest.
Somewhere between now and then we will be looking at
a recovery potential assessment for the species. There
may be a number of things that we will be able to do
to develop a recovery target.
Q: Do you have tributaries to the St. Lawrence now
that have naturally spawning sturgeon?
A: (Fred Hnytka) I actually do not know that.
A: (Lloyd Mohr) The answer to that is yes, there is
actually a lot of natural reproduction that comes through
the St Lawrence System at this time.
Q: I am asking the question because in New York we
have been coordinating with Canadian firms to collect
eggs artificially using hormones to induce egg release
for stocking purposes. I work with the US Fish and
Wildlife Service and we just went through the Joint
Status Review for the American Eel on both sides of
the river and we had great coordination. I was wondering
if we are going to be doing a similar joint effort
with lake sturgeon on the Recovery Plan?
A: (Fred Hnytka) I think that would likely be the
case. Over the near future I would guess that we would
continue to forge those relationships with our American
counterparts in terms of developing various recovery
plans. Lake sturgeon are found in much of the international
waters and because of that, we would solicit help from
our American counterparts in any recovery plans.. With
some of the other species that I have worked with in
the past, the short jaw cisco for instance, we worked
closely with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the
USGS for the expertise and other responsible jurisdictions
Q: If lake sturgeon are listed, and given that there
are pretty severe penalties for take infractions, do
you think that will provide sufficient deterrent to
move illegal activity to the US side of the border?
A: (Greg Drogowski) I guess it would depend on how
much illegal demand there would be for sturgeon and
the price that it would bring. It is going to be so
new to Canada to do the enforcement on this. Maybe
somewhere down the road, yes, but I can also foresee
the regulatory end of this in the US also getting to
a point that the more poaching becomes public in the
US, the more the public will demand that the fines
in the US change.
Q: (Lloyd Mohr) How much illegal lake sturgeon activity
do you think there is, and how much of a concern should
it in fact be? Remember that most of the US talks this
morning were about poaching and illegal fishing activity
from a recreational fishing standpoint (for example:
fishing without a license or keeping a fish that is
undersize), not from an organized crime perspective
where that segment of society is targeting caviar for
profit. Do you think this is going to be the next big
A: (Craig Tabor) As long as there is a market, there
will be a demand, and there will be those that will
be willing to exploit it. Past case work has shown
that the criminal element, just like many things in
nature, will take the path of least resistance. So
if the penalties and enforcement are weaker on the
US side of the border, and there remains a strong market
for caviar and lake sturgeon meat, there will be those
that will be willing to take the chance to go out and
exploit that resource. So to answer your question,
if the restrictions are stronger on the Canadian side
then we will likely see exploitation on the US side
A: (Mary Burnham Curtis) It really is the market that
drives these things. For example, we have had some
of the cheaper replacement products, such as whitefish
roe, come through our lab that was dyed with squid
ink to try and pass it off as beluga roe. We see much
of the caviar come into our lab around Christmas and
New Years because that is the time of year when the
most demand is. They are doing a really good job in
other wildlife industries such as hunting African and
Asian wildlife, and getting the word out that this
is not a good thing for people to be doing, and the
demand if falling off.
Q: (Henry Quinlan) Can you describe the way that you
collect samples for analysis?
A: (Mary Burnham Curtis) With the survey that we did
back in the 90’s, we went to the local grocery
stores and collected caviar samples for testing to
determine what was being sold on the domestic retail
market. For the international import markets, we have
agents stationed at the major ports of entry like Miami,
New York and Los Angeles. In the late 90’s, a
lot of black market caviar was being smuggled into
those ports. As enforcement with caviar restrictions
increased at those ports, we saw a shift and attempts
to import in places like Brownsville Texas. For clarification – our
Wildlife Inspectors sample imports according to the
shipment volume. If it’s a large shipment, only
a percentage of it is actually sampled. What gets sampled
depends on what is declared – more species will
likely lead to more sampling. If the Special Agents
are involved, we will likely sample more intensively,
and they may sample exports as well as imports. Inspectors
will routinely sample about an ounce of caviar, from
which we analyze 2 eggs.
Q: (Nancy Auer) In recent professional manuscripts
involving research with amphibians, the authors are
purposely not disclosing the location and are not depicting
maps and are very guarded about where their work is
taking place. Do any of you think we should be more
guarded about publishing or posting information about
the locations of sturgeon populations around the Great
A: (Craig Tabor) Similar to the remarks that my counterparts
made earlier, public support and the knowledge about
what government agencies are doing is important. To
answer your question, we should look at these situations
on a case by case basis. Related to some of my own
experiences that are non-wildlife, the Fish and Wildlife
Service also enforces The Archeological Resources Protection
Act. In some recent case work that was done in Nevada,
a researcher that knew where a pristine archeological
site was located kept that a closely guarded secret
to protect the site. No one else knew about it. With
wildlife such as white sturgeon, like what was commented
on earlier, the portion of the population that is interested
in exploiting a resource like this often already knows
about the locations where the wildlife can be found
before we do. But for other species like a certain
amphibian, if little is known about the species, then
would be smart to not disclose information like where
they can be easily found or where they would congregate
to breed. I understand that for restoration work that
is being done, it is often important for the public
to be aware of the project to get their support.
Q: (Tom Pratt) The number of both federal and provincial
officers is small relative to the resources that are
available in the states. What do you think is the minimal
level or enforcement capabilities that are needed to
protect this species? In some of your programs you
have been able to put 20 to 25 officers out there over
a six week time frame. Is that overkill or could you
cut that back and still have an effective program?
Also explain how the volunteers play into the question
A: (Todd Schaller) It is hard to say at what level
you could drop back to and still have an effective
program. The reason that we have kept it at the level
that we have is because it is a unique resource that
we can tap that others can not tap, so that helps us
a great deal. We have a high level of enforcement toward
sturgeon, however sturgeon isn’t the only work
that is being done while on patrol. For our program
it is a priority for us and we have resources that
others don’t have.
A: (Robert Luke) During the earlier part of my career,
which stretches back over 23 years, I was working with
communities up in the arctic. When a violation took
place, I would likely never had known about it had
it not been for members of the community informing
me. You build a trust within a community and the more
you do that, the more information and the more proactive
work that you can do. When the people that are doing
illegal activity know that the people around them are
willing to come forward with information, then the
amount of illegal activity will go down. It is important
that you get into isolated communities on a regular
basis, community based management will only work if
the public are willing to get involved. So it is important
to maintain that trust and engage the public. I think
it is key to effective enforcement.
A: (Mike Kitt) It is difficult to say how many officers
would be enough. In our case, we have actually scaled
back the number of officers that are on the river because
the program has been effective with the volunteer patrols.
I suppose at some point if we continued to scale back
enforcement, illegal activity would increase.
Q: (Lloyd Mohr) How long has it taken to build these
relationships and programs like sturgeon for tomorrow
or the patrol programs?
A: (Greg Drogowski) Our program began in 1999 and
within just a couple of years we began to see a turnaround
and the crimes go down.
A: (Craig Tabor) Many times it depends on the species
in question. Is it a species like the grey wolf in
Idaho that has been reintroduced but it is universally
hated by 95% of the population in the state, or is
it a charismatic mega fauna? Depending on which scenario
we look at, it is going to take different amounts of
time to change people’s perception.
A: (Todd Schaller) Lake sturgeon are easy for instance
when you can take kids down to a river and they can
see fish that are much bigger and older than they are.
It is an easy sell to get them and their parents involved.
So in places like our area, it is easy to do.
Q: (Tom Pratt) In places like where Mike works, it
seems that you are trying to work more closely with
anglers rather than with the public. So are you seeing
the same kind of turnaround?
A: (Mike Kitt) Once I started working with them, the
turnaround in attitudes was fairly quick. With the
problem group that I was working on, as soon as we
started busting just one or two of them, word traveled
very fast because they were such a tight knit group
and attitudes changed. This is not to say that we don’t
still have problems. We do. But not nearly as many
as before, and I am sure that it was because we put
our presence out there. As the public or community
begins to take a stewardship role in these programs,
less problems occur.
Q: (Rob Elliott) During regulation changes how often
does the enforcement enter into the discussion? For
example, on the Menominee River we have a very dedicated
group of fisherman, but the fishery is now closed and
it is now just catch and release fishing. Are you still
going to come up and patrol or will those dedicated
people move to somewhere else and now you will have
to find a new location where you will have to sit for
surveillance of illegal activities.
A: (Mike Kitt) The folks are very dedicated to their
sport. Now you will see a lot of the illegal fish returned
in hopes of catching a bigger one. Some of these people
just like to catch them. I suspect that as we put more
pressure on them through enforcement and regulation
that you are going to see a shift. They are going to
go to other areas in the state where there is a legal
fishery because you are going to have a certain fraction
of those people that want to take the fish home. I
think the pressure is going to shift to different areas.
I have talked with my counterparts in Ontario where
they can catch one fish per day so if there is a demand
in a place like Chicago and some one can catch a fish
in Ontario and in a days time be back with the fish
in Chicago, get ready because those people are going
to be going there.
C: (Lloyd Mohr) Ontario is in the process of changing
that. The new regulations would limit the fishing to
one fish per year with a mandatory registration of
each fish caught.
A: (Mike Kitt) We see a noticeable difference in angler
activity between those 70 inch years and 50 inch years.
Those people know what is there and they know when
they have a realistic chance of catching a fish, so
a lot of them don’t come. But we still get a
fair amount, probably over 50%, that come because they
just enjoy the fishery.
C: We dovetail our research activities with the law
folks and Sturgeon for Tomorrow. Last year the sturgeon
began spawning two weeks earlier than anticipated and
we were able to alert Sturgeon for Tomorrow so that
they could get there patrol program started, and we
alerted the MDNR law people to get the ball rolling
and get the officers out there when the fish were vulnerable.
In turn, the law folks have been helpful by letting
us researchers know easy access locations to the river
and they have actually helped us catch some of the
fish we were working with.
C: (Greg Drogowski) Communication between researchers
and law folks is critical. The couple of fishery people
that I am working closely with have provided valuable
information about lake and stream assessments, where
stocking is taking place. They come to us with information
about regulation changes and we in turn build a relationship
by telling them information that is useful for their
Q: (Henry Quinlan) I would like to comment
about some of the concerns that were stated earlier
aquaculture. Are you aware of sturgeon aquaculture
taking place or being proposed in your respective areas?
A: I’m from Minnesota and we have some aquaculture
taking place with fish that were purchased from the
first nation. It is not a big operation but they have
been permitted to have them in their facilities.
A: I’m from New Brunswick and we currently have
one short nose sturgeon aquaculture program that has
been up and running for about six years now and is
doing fairly well. There have been a few other attempts
with short nose and Atlantic sturgeon.
Q: (James Boase) Mary, has there been any effort to
collect genetic information from the fish in this type
of aquaculture program so that if they ever escape
and become established in the wild, you would know
where they came from?
A: (Mary Burnham Curtis) as far as I know, that type
of information would come from the officers. I just
did a Google search to find out a whole bunch about
farmed sturgeon and there is some information out there;
for instance Atlantic sturgeon in Florida and the one
farm in Ohio. Just like the catfish farms, I think
this is all going to fall under the USDA because it
is a food product.
C: In my management area I have had requests by individuals
to start a sturgeon aquaculture business but because
the discharge flowed into an existing system that currently
supports lake sturgeon, I was able to deny the permit.
These people are not using it for caviar and things
like that. I think it is because in our state we are
mandated to use fish from private aquiculture facilities.
I am just glad that we still have the ability to deny
these permits or at least restrict what they are doing.
C: (Mary Burnham Curtis) Creating caviar takes a long
time to develop and grow and it is a huge investment.
Even though the demand and the market is there, it
is likely that most of these aquaculture facilities
are there to grow fish for stocking.
C: (Kim Scribner) I am curious why you would deny
a permit for aquaculture but you would use aquaculture
fish for your own state stocking program. I find that
a little strange?
A: Because we do not get to make that decision. The
legislation makes that decision.
Q: What percentage of the people that come
out for these watch programs are actually from the
and how many are just ordinary citizens that like the
resource but don’t actually fish?
A: (Mike Kitt) I can not say for sure but I find a
fairly high percentage of the people are from the non-user
group. We are in a fairly large metropolitan area and
because of this we get a fairly large group of people
that don’t hunt or fish. They just want to come
out and work with the resource.
A: (Greg Drogowski) I think we see the same thing.
I would guess the ratio is 50:50.
A: (Brenda Archambo) We do tours and field trips for
the local school kids and I think that is what gets
the parents out there and interested.
Q: What has been the decision with the Canadian Government
with the white sturgeon?
A: (Fred Hnytka) The decision has been made not to
list certain populations of the white sturgeon, this
is tied with socioeconomic issues. There has been some
concern by NGO’s with that decision.
The following is a correction by Fred Hnytka for clarification
Following up on a question that was posed to me during
the panel review regarding the listing of the white
sturgeon under SARA, I would like to offer the following
correction and clarification. My response as to whether
the white sturgeon was listed was "not",
however that response is not entirely correct. Only
two of six populations, the Lower Fraser R. and Middle
Fraser R. were not listed while the four remaining
populations (Kootenay R., Nechako R., Upper Columbia
R. and Upper Fraser) were indeed listed as "endangered".
The links to the Canada Gazette provide the rationale.
Please pass this on to the other workshop attendees.
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