State of the Lake

Lake Ontario 2014-2019

1.0 Nearshore Zone Goal

Protect, restore and sustain the diversity of the nearshore fish community, with an emphasis on self-sustaining native fishes such as Walleye, Yellow Perch, Lake Sturgeon, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, sunfish, Northern Pike, Muskellunge, Round Whitefish and American Eel.

The Lake Ontario Committee's goal for a diverse nearshore fish community was largely met during the reporting period. Status/trend indicators were met for Yellow Perch, Walleye, and Smallmouth Bass, and these species continue to provide excellent angling opportunities in the nearshore zone. However, status/trend indicators were not met for Lake Sturgeon and American Eel restoration. Lake Sturgeon populations showed no trend during the reporting period and American Eel numbers remain far below target.

2.0 Offshore Pelagic Zone Goal

Maintain the offshore pelagic fish community, that is characterized by a diversity of trout and salmon species including Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and Atlantic Salmon, in balance with prey fish populations and lower trophic levels.

The offshore zone in Lake Ontario continued to provide outstanding salmon and trout fisheries during the reporting period. Indicators for Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, and Brown Trout were met. Indicators for Rainbow Trout were mixed with the population indicators being met but the fishing quality indicator declining since the last reporting period. The offshore preyfish population indicator was met but the Alewife population also showed a declining trend. Indicators for Atlantic salmon restoration remained low during the reporting period.

3.0 Deep Pelagic And Offshore Benthic Zone Goal

Protect and restore the diversity of the offshore benthic fish community composed of a mix of self-sustaining native species including Lake Trout, Burbot, Lake Whitefish, deepwater ciscoes, Slimy Sculpin, and Deepwater Sculpin.

The Lake Ontario Committee's offshore benthic zone goal had mixed results during the reporting period. Indicators for the adult Lake Trout population were met but natural reproduction remains low and the long-term goal of a self-sustaining Lake Trout population has not been achieved. The indicator for Lake Whitefish populations in eastern Lake Ontario was also not met. However, benthic prey fish diversity and abundance both increased, and the first stocked Bloater were detected during the reporting period.