Restoration of Lake Trout in the Great Lakes: Challenges and Strategies for Future Management


Charles C. Krueger; Michael L. Jones; William W. Taylor

Journal or Book Title: Journal of Great Lakes Research

Keywords: Genetics; Great Lakes; exotic species; habitat; rehabilitation; ecosystem management; public participation

Volume/Issue: 21 (Supplement 1)

Page Number(s): 547-558

Year Published: 1995


Rehabilitation of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) populations has shown many signs of success in Lake Superior, but few are apparent in Lakes Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario. This paper identifies key factors that have blocked rehabilitation and proposes management actions to address these problems based on the proceedings of the RESTORE Conference held in 1994. Important factors that have prevented restoration were the loss of native populations and their genetic variation, excessive fishing mortality, effects of non-native species, and degradation of habitat. Strategies proposed were conservation of remaining native populations in Lake Superior, introduction to the lower four lakes of lake trout that represent a broad range of genetic diversity, control of sea lamprey populations that use the St. Marys River, reduction of fishing mortality, re-introduction of native forage fish now extinct in some lakes, establishment of lake trout on off-shore spawning areas, and the creation of new spawning shoals. Socio-cultural issues identified were the need within management agencies to integrate lake trout rehabilitation programs into their fish community and ecosystem plans, the loss of managers' and biologists' knowledge because the program has spanned more than one human generation, and the loss of pHblic support for the program from stakeholder groups (e.g., some anglers and commercial fishing groups). Lessons applicable to restoration programs elsewhere were: (1) species are easiest to restore in ecosystems least disturbed, (2) new research information must be efficiently transferred from science to management, and (3) long-lived species pose unique ecological and socio-cultural problems for restoration programs.

Type of Publication: Journal Article