Lake Superior Basin
This meeting served as a Lake Superior Lake Sturgeon
Work Group (LSWG) meeting. The LSWG receives guidance
from the Lake Superior Technical Committee of the
Lake Superior Committee.
Henry Quinlan (chair) and Jonathan Pyatskowit (USFWS),
Tom Pratt (DFO), Amy Welsh (SUNY-Owsego), Brian Borkholder
and Tom Howes (Fond du Lac Band), Nancy Auer (MTU),
Mike Friday (OMNR), Seth Moore (Grand Portage Band),
and Brian Gunderman (MIDNR).
Major Topics Covered:
Our agenda focused on brief updates and information
exchange related to lake sturgeon activities by each
organization represented. Specific topics included;
Update on tasks from the LSTC
At the August 2006 meeting of the LSTC, Henry reported
on the charge from the LSTC to assess the effects
of the sea lamprey control program on lake sturgeon
reproduction in Lake Superior. Age data from Wisconsin
DNR and USFWS in Chequamegon Bay and the Bad River
was utilized for the analysis. Our null hypothesis
was that there was no difference in year class strength
(mean number of fish in a year classes) in years
the Bad River was treated with lampricide and in
years no treatment occurred. To determine if treatments
impacted reproduction/recruitment of lake sturgeon
in the Bad River system we examined year class strength
based on age interpretation of pectoral fin ray cross
sections. Year class strength was the same (7.8 fish
per year) in years of treatments and non-treatments.
Additionally, age data indicated that there were
lake sturgeon produced every year that treatments
occurred in the Bad River. The Bad River is not a
good case study for assessing the effects of TFM
on lake sturgeon reproduction because the stream
is always treated late in the year, after young-of-the-year
lake sturgeon have passed the critical size of about
100 mm in length. Adequate lake sturgeon age data
is not available for other streams, nor for a time
frame that allows suitable evaluation of this charge.
At this time the work group can’t say whether
or not the sturgeon treatment protocol has had any
effect on sturgeon.
Brian Borkolder and Tom Howes updated the committee
on the Fond du Lac Band effort to restore lake sturgeon
to the upper St. Louis River through egg stocking.
A key change has been made with assistance from Michigan
DNR to utilize lake sturgeon from the Sturgeon River,
a tributary to Lake Superior. Stocking of within
basin strains is consistent with the Lake Sturgeon
Rehabilitation Plan for Lake Superior.
Seth Moore informed the LSWG that the Grand Portage
Tribe was building a small hatchery to rear native
fish including lake sturgeon. They have not yet identified
a source of eggs. Grand Portage Tribe established an
annual spring lake sturgeon assessment in Pigeon Bay
using 10” mesh gill nets.
Mike Friday provided a handout on activities in the
Kaministiquia River, Ontario. Mike is leading a multi-year
study with Ontario Power to examine sturgeon spawning
migrations and reproductive success during controlled
flow conditions over historical spawning habitat. Minimum
flows necessary for migration and larval drift have
been documented at about 23 and 17 m3·s-1, respectively.
Henry Quinlan informed the LSWG of a cooperative effort
among his office (USFWS) the Keweenaw Bay Band, Michigan
DNR, and Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.
They have modified the Canadian fall walleye index
netting (FWIN) protocol to monitor juvenile lake sturgeon
in Lake Superior near the mouth of the Ontonagon River,
Michigan. Field crews captured about 40 fish in 2005.
Nancy Auer informed the committee of plans to establish
a streamside rearing facility in the Ontonagon River.
The project is a collaborative effort between Michigan
DNR and Michigan Technological University.
Population status updates to basin map and tables
Topic not covered at this meeting
PIT Tag Assessment – The USFWS purchased PIT
tag equipment with funds from the Great Lakes Fishery
Trust and distributed it to individuals/organizations
present at the meeting. In all, 20 agencies in Lake
Superior will receive PIT tag equipment to help establish
a standardized assessment process for lake sturgeon
rehabilitation in Lake Superior. Henry described the
process of submitting PIT tag numbers to the USFWS
Alpena office for entry into the Great Lakes Tag Identification
Database housed on the Great Lakes Fishery Commission
Genetic Assignments of At-Large Sturgeon - Amy Welsh
updated the LSWG on a project to assign lake sturgeon
captured in the open waters of Lake Superior to their
stream of origin. Amy is using genetic data from spawning
populations (determined from tissue samples provided
by many agencies) as a baseline to make assignments
and explore movement of lake sturgeon. She evaluated
data from 18 streams and grouped data from spawning
streams that were indistinguishable. Thus far her work
has shown that assignment test can be made with >80%
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