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Lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) populations in Lake Superior and their restoration in 1959-1993

Journal of Great Lakes Research

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Abstract

Naturally-reproducing populations of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) have been re-established in most of Lake Superior, but have not been restored to 1929-1943 average abundance. Progress toward lake trout restoration in Lake Superior is described, management actions are reviewed, and the effectiveness of those actions is evaluated; especially stocking lake trout as a tool for building spawning stocks, and subsequently, populations of wild recruits. Widespread destruction of lake trout stocks in the 1950s due to an intense fishery and sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) predation resulted in lower overall phenotypic diversity than was previously present. Stocking of yearling lake trout, begun in the 1950s, produced high densities of spawners that reproduced wherever inshore spawning habitat was widespread. Sea lampreys were greatly reduced beginning in 1961, using selective chemical toxicants and barrier dams, but continue to exert substantial mortality. Fishery regulation was least effective in Wisconsin, where excessive gillnet effort caused high by catch of lake trout until 1991, and in eastern Michigan, where lake trout restoration was deferred in favor of a tribal fishery for lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) in 1985. Restoration of stocks was quicker in offshore areas where remnant wild lake trout survived and fishing intensity was low, and was slower in inshore areas where stocked lake trout reproduced successfully and fishing intensity was high. Inshore stocks of wild lake trout are currently about 61% of historic abundance in Michigan and 53% in Wisconsin. Direct comparison of modern and historic abundances of inshore lake trout stocks in Minnesota and Ontario is impossible due to lack of historic stock assessment data. Stocks in Minnesota are less abundant at present than in Michigan or Wisconsin, and stocks in Ontario are similar to those in Michigan. Further progress in stock recovery can only be achieved if sea lampreys are depressed and if fisheries are constrained further than at present.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) populations in Lake Superior and their restoration in 1959-1993
Series title:
Journal of Great Lakes Research
Volume
21
Year Published:
1995
Language:
English
Contributing office(s):
Great Lakes Science Center
Description:
p. 152-175
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Journal of Great Lakes Research
First page:
152
Last page:
175