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Can acoustic telemetry track post-stocking behaviour of Bloater in Lake Ontario?
Project ID – 2016_JOH_44051
1Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Glenora Fisheries Station, Picton, ON, K0K 2T0
2University of Windsor, Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, Windsor, ON, N9B 3P4
3New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Cape Vincent, NY, 13618
Bi-national agencies have developed a plan to re-establish a self-sustaining deepwater cisco population in Lake Ontario. Fish culture operations are now producing large numbers of Bloater (Coregonus hoyi) which are being released annually, but no program exists to assess their fate after introduction. We established a 69 kHz acoustic array centred around a deepwater channel in eastern Lake Ontario to assess post-stocking behaviour, movement and survival. Seventy yearling Bloater (174 ± 10 mm, 62.3 ± 10.4 g, ~19 months old) were tagged with Vemco V7 or V9 tags (35 of each tag size) and introduced with ~32,000 other Bloater in November 2015. In May 2016, our 80 receiver array was successfully downloaded, with 68/70 Bloater being detected nearly 1 million times. Bloater quickly dispersed through the array, generally following the long (deep) axis of the Channel. Some Bloater remained in the array for the entire 6-month period while others emigrated. Of those that emigrated, some returned to the deep water channel the following spring. Based on fate assignment, we estimate 6-month survival to be between 12 and 26%. These preliminary results show great promise for the continued use of acoustic telemetry to inform restoration goals for deepwater ciscoes and other small bodied / hatchery-reared fishes in the Great Lakes basin.