Lake Ontario’s offshore benthic fish community includes primarily slimy sculpin, lake whitefish, rainbow smelt, lake trout, burbot, and sea lamprey. Of these, lake trout have been the focus of an international restoration effort for more than three decades (Elrod et al. 1995; Lantry and Lantry 2008). The deepwater sculpin and three species of deepwater ciscoes (Coregonus spp.) that were historically important in the offshore benthic zone became rare or were extirpated by the 1960s (Christie 1973; Owens et al. 2003; Lantry et al. 2007b; Roth et al. 2013). Ecosystem changes continue to influence the offshore benthic fish community, including the effects of dreissenid mussels, the near disappearance of burrowing amphipods (Diporeia spp.) (Dermott et al. 2005; Watkins et al. 2007), and the increased abundance and expanded geographic distribution of round goby (see Nearshore Fish Community chapter) (Lantry et al. 2007b). The fish-community objectives for the offshore benthic fish community, as described by Stewart et al. (1999), are:
The offshore benthic fish community will be composed of self-sustaining native fishes characterized by lake trout as the top predator, a population expansion of lake whitefish from northeastern waters to other areas of the lake, and rehabilitated native prey fishes.