2:15 - 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 10, 2004
1. Lake Superior Basin
2. Lake Michigan Basin
3. Lake Huron & Lake
4. Lake Ontario
Basin & St. Lawrence River
Oriented Session: Lake Superior Basin
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.
Andy Edwards, Mike Friday, Bill Gardner, Susan Greenwood,
Brian Gunderman, Alex Litvinov, Robert McNeely, Glenn
Miller, Terry Perrault, Brad Phaneuf, Tom Pratt, Jonathan
Pyatskowit, Henry Quinlan (facilitator), Karen Schmidt,
Steve Scott, Amy Welsh.
Major Topics Covered:
- Harvest questions
- Formation of Lake Superior Lake Sturgeon Work Group
- Tagging site/location
- Genetic study status
- Taking of age structures
Steve Scott asked about significant sport or commercial
harvest in Canadian waters.
The sport harvest remains rather liberal at one fish
per day with size limit restrictions. There is no Provincial
commercial harvest allowed. Sue Greenwood explained
that among First Nations there are 2 types of catch
generally occurring - subsistence catch and an “unregulated”
catch. The “unregulated” catch is somewhat
monitored through buyer reports. Steve asked about the
need to examine regulations lakewide (either sport or
commercial). Some discussion ensued with no outcome.
Formation of a Lake Superior Lake Sturgeon Working
Henry mentioned that a lake sturgeon work group was
likely being formed under the direction of the Great
Lakes Fishery Commission’s Lake Superior Technical
Committee (LSTC). This work group would follow up on
the collaborative efforts of the former Lake Sturgeon
Subcommittee which produced the reports, Status of Lake
Sturgeon in Lake Superior (1996) and the Lake Superior
Lake Sturgeon Rehabilitation Plan (1999). The LSTC suggested
that the charge to the work group would be to monitor
and report progress at achieving lake sturgeon rehabilitation
in Lake Superior. Henry was tasked to identify and contact
people interested in participating on the work group.
This breakout session is one opportunity to identify
individuals and/or agencies that would be interested
in participating. The Work Group terms of reference
will be determined at the January 2005 LSTC meeting.
There are several locations on a sturgeon where internal
tags (PIT – passive integrated transponder and
CWT – coded wire tag) are being applied. There
is concern that all agencies/institutions are not aware
of where various agencies are placing tags and that
tags may not be detected if field crews are not checking
all potential sites where tags are applied. We developed
the following table but lacked participation and confirmation
by several agencies so it is incomplete.
Agency PIT CWT
Knowledge Gaps: Unsure of location in Sturgeon River,
Portage River, Chequamegon Bay and Minnesota.
CWTs are added to all stocked fish in the Ontonagon
and Sturgeon rivers and also on some in the St. Louis
River. The tag site is usually located on the snout
or under the 2nd/3rd dorsal scute. Very few agencies
are checking for the CWTs during assessment activities.
We discussed using a standard a site (back of head)
for PIT tags, but felt that discussion/decision should
take place with the Work Group being formed since some
folks using other sites were not present. It was agreed
upon that if inserting the 22mm PIT tags in the belly,
then also place a tag in the head.
Amy Welsh at UC-Davis has done most of the recent genetic
analysis on Lake Superior lake sturgeon. Amy will be
at UC- Davis for at least another 1.5 years and will
continue to accept and process tissue samples. A report
on the genetic status and structure of Lake Superior
(and other Cdn/US Great Lakes) sturgeon populations
sampled through 2003 has been completed. In general,
there is a great deal genetic difference among lake
sturgeon populations in Lake Superior as well as between
Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes basins. Tom
Pratt asked about the absolute minimum number of samples
for analysis. Amy responded with “20”.
There was discussion of the ability to assign a river
of origin to sturgeon captured in the open lake. Amy
indicated that she can analyze lake caught tissue samples
and assign them (she feels confident about this) to
the most likely river of origin.
Three (or four) stocking projects are underway in Lake
Superior. They are in the Ontonagon and Sturgeon rivers,
Michigan, and the lower and upper St. Louis River, MN/WI.
Steve Scott noted that in the late 1990s Michigan DNR
and Wisconsin DNR developed an agreement to stock eggs
from the Sturgeon River, Michigan in the St. Louis River.
For 2-3 years, eggs from the Sturgeon River were reared
at Wisconsin DNR Wild Rose Hatchery and stocked in the
St. Louis River. The agreement called for 50% of the
fish to be returned to Michigan DNR. Michigan DNR stocked
those fish in the Ontonagon River which was identified
as having high potential for restoration in the Michigan
DNR sturgeon plan. Michigan DNR currently raises Sturgeon
River eggs at their Wolf Lake Hatchery and targets stocking
5,000 fall fingerlings annually. This is a 20 year plan.
The preferred life stage for stocking is 0+ to 1+.
Michigan DNR and Michigan Technological University
are doing assessment of the stocking in the Ontonogan
River. Other agencies would like to know more about
Terry Perrault of the Fond du Lac Band described the
upper St. Louis River stocking project. This project
is an attempt to restore a river resident population
upstream from 5 dams/barriers to Lake Superior. When
they started the project in 1999 they attempted to locate
a river resident population from Lake Superior but none
was known to exist. They worked out an agreement with
Wisconsin DNR to receive eggs from a river resident
population in the Menominee River, a tributary to Lake
Michigan. To improve the likelihood of developing a
river resident population in the upper St. Louis River
they used Astroturf nest boxes and planted 120,000 eggs
in an attempt to help imprinting. They have had good
hatch success but little success capturing juveniles.
A discussion ensued about the genetic background of
the St. Louis River fish. Bill Gardner asked if there
was any possibility of getting genetic material from
old mounted fish from the area. Steve Scott asked about
other egg sources. It was suggested that the topic of
identifying eggs sources and stocking options for the
Fond du Lac Band to consider be discussed at a Work
Taking Age Structures
Sue Greenwood asked about procedures used by other
agencies to take pectoral fin ray structures for aging.
Discussion ensued about different methods used. Brian
Gunderman noted that taking the fin ray at least 5 millimeters
from the joint was preferred for age accuracy. The group
seemed to prefer the use of a hack saw to take a small,
1-2 cm section of ray over taking the whole fin ray.
The need to take a fin ray was also discussed since
it is such an invasive procedure. Generally, agencies
should be sure there is a justifiable need to know the
fish age before taking the structure.
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