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Management implications of Lake Ontario Atlantic salmon restoration science
1Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF), Lake Ontario Management Unit, 41 Hatchery Lane, RR#4, Picton, Ontario K0K 2T0
2Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF) Aquatic Biodiversity and Conservation Unit, Trent University, 2140 East Bank Dr., Peterborough, Ontario K9J 7B8
A technical workshop was held February 18–20, 2014 in Alliston, Ontario to assess progress, identify knowledge gaps and management implications in the Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program. Participants presented preliminary findings from ongoing research and monitoring programs in support of Atlantic salmon restoration in Lake Ontario and shared experiences, knowledge, and perspectives among restoration partners and invited experts from other jurisdictions. One product of the technical workshop was a synthesis report, detailing key findings, hypotheses-of-effect and management implications. The extended abstracts of the presentations, associated questions and answers, and facilitated discussion notes are reported.
The Atlantic Salmon Program Steering Committee held a second two-day science transfer and management workshop to review the findings and advice detailed in the first workshop report. The Steering Committee considered a broader suite of management issues related to achieving the long-term goals of the restoration program, including funding, communications, governance, logistics and short-term priorities vs. long-term outcomes. The Steering Committee developed a five-year plan to guide the program and coordinate efforts towards the ultimate goal of a restored wild population of Atlantic Salmon in Lake Ontario. The term of the plan is for five years (2015-2019). The plan is intended to be responsive to change and will be reviewed and adjusted as needed. The plan is in draft form and will be circulated for internal review and then released for broader public consultation. The timing for public release of the plan will depend on internal approval procedures.
The following six draft program objectives have been proposed to advance the Atlantic Salmon Restoration program towards the long-term goal. The objectives fit within the four pillars of the“Bring back the Salmon” (www.bringbackthesalmon.ca) program and are consistent with benchmarks defined in the 1995 plan ((Miller-Dodd and Orsatti, 1995) and subsequent reviews. The draft objectives are supported with a number of strategies that together will guide program priorities, planning and coordination and performance measurement and reporting over the next five years:
Objective 1: Improve fish culture and stocking practices to increase the number/percentage and fitness of stocked smolts to increase the potential for retuning adults to spawn successfully
Objective 2: Increase adult returns to the restoration streams.
Objective 3: Improve fish habitat as defined by the Fish Habitat Team including riparian area, fish passage, water quality (temperature and siltation) and in-stream structure (spawning and nursery habitat).
Objective 4: Decide which strain(s) are best suited for restoration by 2019.
Objective 5: Establish a recreational tributary fishery for Atlantic Salmon by 2019 (tributaries to be defined through regulation).
Objective 6: Improve the general public and angler awareness, support and confidence in the program.