The effects of human population growth, industrialization, and the introduction of marine fishes have reduced the suitability of each of the Great Lakes for oligotrophic fish communities. The ultimate consequence has been a reduction of fishery productivity that has ranged from extreme in Lake Ontario to moderate in Lake Superior. If measures are not taken to alleviate the adverse effects of marine invaders and trends in environmental quality, a major reduction in fishery productivity can eventually be expected throughout the Great Lakes.
Prospects for the next century will be improved if the lakes can be intensively managed. More stringent control of the sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), and subsequent reduction of the alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), by the reestablishment of large piscivores, should permit the recovery of some of the previous predator and prey species, or the development of populations of new species that are more compatible with a reduced number of lampreys. Even if marine species can be reduced greatly, the full restoration of the former fishery productivity remains uncertain and will require a high degree of coordination among all management and research agencies that have responsibilities on the Great Lakes.
Unfavorable trends toward progressive degradation of water quality pose the greatest threat to restoration of the fishery resources of the Great Lakes. Where changes in water quality have been the greatest, oligotrophic species have become scarce or absent, and in the deepwater regions no other species have reoccupied the vacated niches.
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The future of salmonid communities in the Laurentian Great Lakes