Oriented Sessions: Lake
Huron & Lake Erie Basins
The discussion was started with introductions by participants
including a brief description of their affiliation and
suggestions of topics to cover during this group discussion.
Brenda Archambo, Jim Boase (facilitator), Donna Crist,
Roger Greil, Charles Hendry, Rod McDonald, Tom Mosindy,
Chris Vandergoot, Jerry Weise
Major Topics Covered:
- Fishing regulation issues and Native harvest
- Illegal trade of sturgeon
- Public involvement
- Cooperation between agencies
- Starting a lake sturgeon task group for both basins
- Development of a management plan.
Fishing Regulations and Native Harvest
Questions were raised about the continued disparity
of harvest regulations between Ontario and Michigan.
Michigan regulations include; one sturgeon/season, between
42” and 50”, season open in the St. Clair
River and Lake St. Clair, July 15 through September
30, anglers must posses a sturgeon tag and report when
they capture a fish, no open season on the Detroit River.
Ontario regulations include; one sturgeon/day, no size
restriction, no closed season, open fishing in the Great
Lakes and the connecting waterways, some restrictions
in certain tributaries to the Great Lakes. Areas of
special concern include the connecting waterways in
the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers. The St. Clair River
has two documented spawning sites while the Detroit
River has one known spawning site and one newly constructed
site at Belle Isle. Concerns were expressed that the
management differences could hamper the success of the
spawning reef at Belle Isle given that so few sturgeon
have been captured in the Detroit River and most were
captured in Canadian waters.
The issue was also raised that because lake sturgeon
are protected under a C.I.T.E.S. agreement between the
U.S. and Canada differences in fishing regulations compounds
enforcement of the agreement. Ontario is working to
bridge differences in regulations. The process requires
changes in the law at the Parliamentary level of government
and is much more involved than what is required to change
fishing regulations in the states.
Questions were raised about harvest of lake sturgeon
by Native communities in the U. S. and First Nations
communities in Canada. The number of lake sturgeon harvested
by both groups is unknown. Ontario typically has a good
working relationship with its First Nation communities
working cooperatively in areas of Georgian Bay and the
North Channel of Lake Huron. Future issues and management
decisions with lake sturgeon need to incorporate the
interests of tribal groups.
Illegal Trade of Lake Sturgeon, Public Involvement
and Cooperation Among Agencies
Concerns were discussed about the increase in lake
sturgeon poaching taking place in the St. Clair and
Detroit Rivers. As researchers we may be inadvertently
providing information to poachers when information is
posted on websites or when our research makes the news.
One possible solution was to get the word out to as
many people as possible with the idea that the public
and other fishers would be watching and notify authorities
when they saw suspicious behavior. Setting up watch
groups similar to those on the Fox and Wolf Rivers in
Wisconsin and the Black River in Michigan may be a solution.
Law agencies on both sides of the border need to be
educated about the vulnerability of stocks in areas
where lake sturgeon congregate.
Formation of a Lake Sturgeon Committee and Management
Issue was discussed about forming a lake sturgeon task
group under the Lake Huron Technical Committee to begin
development of a lake sturgeon management plan for both
Lakes Huron and Erie. The goal was to present the idea
to the committees so that it can be discussed at the
Lake Committee Meetings in spring.
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