Proceedings of the 2004 Great Lakes Lake Sturgeon Coordination Meeting


Subject Oriented Session: Sturgeon Passage/Hydropower Operation

Introduction:
The session began with self-introductions, along with brief statements of job duties and how they relate to fish passage or hydropower operations and licensing.

Topics Covered:
- Importance of fish passage to sturgeon rehabilitation
- Need for population specific data

Participant List:
Stephen Amaral, Mike Donofrio, Dave Bryson, Brant Fisher, Mike Friday, Charles Hendry, Boyd Kynard, Joe Lyons, Bruce McGregor, Tom Pratt, Jeremy Pyatskowit, Don Reiter, Karen Schmidt, Larry Thompson (facilitator), Jerry Weise

Discussion Summary:

Importance of fish passage to sturgeon rehabilitation

1) the importance depends on the current status of the sturgeon populations above and below the dam in question;

2) the importance depends on the historical distribution and abundance of sturgeon in the watershed, including the area upstream of the dam;

3) the importance depends on the availability and suitability of habitat for sturgeon upstream of the dam;

4) there are measures at dams other than fish passage that could maintain or enhance conditions for sturgeon downstream of the dam, such as providing adequate instream flows, proper flow release timing, and improved channel conditions.

5) dams fragment sturgeon populations, and providing fish passage would re-connect the upstream and downstream populations.

Need for population specific data

The group discussed the need to obtain relevant information regarding the sturgeon populations in a watershed before pursuing fish passage at a dam.

This information could allow prioritization of watersheds and dam sites, where sturgeon passage would yield the most benefit to sturgeon rehabilitation.
The point was made and reinforced that a basin-specific fishery management plan should be developed for watersheds that include dams where sturgeon passage is contemplated. Such a plan should address the current sturgeon population status, historical distribution and abundance, habitat distribution and quality, and other issues.

The point was made that fish passage facilities at a dam, or dam removal, could open a vast watershed area to sea lampreys or other invasive species. The group discussed the need for a basin-specific fishery management plan to include recommendations to prevent the potential invasion by sea lampreys or other invasive species past the dam.

The issue was raised that sturgeon passage at a dam may include cultural as well as biological justifications. The potential for fish passageways to allow sturgeon to pass to Native American Reservation lands was briefly discussed.

Most of the issues discussed by our session participants could, and should, be addressed in basin-specific fishery management plans for each watershed where fish passage at dams is under consideration. It is advisable for the resource agencies to develop such plans. These plans would prioritize sites for sturgeon passage, as well as discuss the current sturgeon population status, the historical distribution and abundance of sturgeon, the distribution and quality of sturgeon habitat in the watershed, measures to prevent non-native or nuisance species invasions of the watershed, and other issues.


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