Issues and Problems as Sturgeon Populations
The session began with a round of self-introductions
and identification of topics for discussion.
- What are or could be issues and problems
- What needs to be done
Nancy Auer (facilitator), David Bos, Kristin Bott, Dona
Crist, Tim Cwalinski, Andrea Drauch, Patrick Forsythe,
Brian Gunderman, Randy Jackson, Chet MacKenzie, Rod
McDonald, Tom Mosindy, Jonathan Pyatskowit Steve Scott,
Kim Scribner, Melvin Southwind, Amy Welsh, John Weisser
What do we think are or will be issues or problems?
1) Open up harvest – and at what levels?
1a) How do we handle harvest if stocks mix (i.e. Green
Bay where several river groups seem to mix?).
1b) How do we allocate harvest to various user groups?
2) At what level is recovery complete (see L. Superior
& L. Michigan Rehab Plans)
From an ecological aspect? From a genetic aspect?
3) What are influences of pesticides and contaminants
See OME and DEQ fishing guides.
4) How do we monitor and patrol “incidental catch”
vs. folks actually fishing to catch and release sturgeon?
Can we? Do we?
5) What happens if and when sturgeon become a nuisance
to commercial fisherman again? Can we get commercial
fishermen to report by-catch of sturgeon now so we can
keep an eye on this?
6) How do we handle Black Market? Do we have enough
law enforcement? Will agencies support enforcement over
7) What do increased numbers of sturgeon do to other
rehabilitation projects for other organisms? Canadian
8) What are impacts of recovery of sturgeon expected
to be on current fish communities such as walleye?
9) Need to work with sea lamprey control staff on barriers
and chemical treatments.
10) Need for promise of money to monitor stable or increasing
populations – what is long term commitment from
11) We need to develop general management decisions
and goals for growing sturgeon populations.
12) What are impacts of tournaments on sturgeon? More
boats, large and faster boats, more incidental catch,
mortality due to propeller damage, etc.
13) Can we establish a few refuges throughout the Great
Lakes to protect adult, spawning and nursery habitat
for a few populations now? These to be our reserve.
What needs to be done?
1) There is a need for a careful study of catch and
release fishery on survival and condition of sturgeon,
especially incorporating duration of time being fished.
2) Propose that the State of Michigan take contaminant
samples from fish taken in fishery on Menominee River
to increase knowledge of contaminants in sturgeon.
3) Public education needs to be increased to discourage
the black market and increase awareness of unique value
of the species and local efforts to recover species.
4) Need to set up monitoring of incidental catch in
commercial fisheries and monitor over time, starting
now. Need for incentive for fishers to report catch.
5) Need for more collaboration with individuals studying
other species now being “recovered” –
such as freshwater mussels, etc.
6) Need to know what interactions exist between lake
sturgeon and other native species like walleye, lake
whitefish, white sucker, etc.
7) Continue to work with sea lamprey control on individual
Some conflict with installation of additional barriers
vs. fish passage issue.
8) Need to define healthy stock or population (in numbers,
9) Need to define user groups. What are the groups besides:
sportfishers, [commercial fishers?], SFT/spear harvest?,
subsistence needs/tribal harvest, school children-public
education, general observers, etc.
10) Weigh option of protecting habitat or area vs. increasing
law enforcement and public education.
11) Evaluation of protection level needs to be on case
by case basis – maybe close some areas, protect
some stocks or ecosystems totally, allow some harvest
This way one or two Great Lake stocks are protected
to contribute to our knowledge of natural populations.
Idea of developing ‘marine sanctuary’ closed
fishing area was discussed at length.
12) Monitoring (assessment) of stable and increasing
populations is needed, defined in Lake Superior and
Lake Michigan rehab plans. Annual gillnet surveys in
lakes seem to work best at this time. Is assessment
with precision possible?
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