Lake trout, once plentiful and highly prized by Great Lakes sport and commercial fishers, may flourish once again in all of the Great Lakes if a new research, restoration and management effort proves effective, according to U.S. Department of Interior biologists and fishery experts. The Fiscal Year 1998 Department of Interior Appropriations Bill contains $1 million for the U.S. Geological Survey and $578,000 for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of a "Great Lakes Initiative."
"In the past few decades, the Great Lakes have suffered the decline and loss of many highly valued fish species like the lake trout. The loss of native species and the invasion of exotic species, such as the sea lamprey, have led to unstable fish communities, a loss of sport fishing opportunities and serious economic impacts," said Dr. Gregory Smith, Acting Eastern Regional Chief Biologist for the USGS.
The USGS and the Fish & Wildlife Service are looking at new ways to help restore key native fish including the lake trout, coaster brook trout and lake sturgeon in hopes of establishing more balanced, stable and predictable fish communities. Ultimately, improved fishing opportunities throughout the Great Lakes are expected to result.
As part of the Great Lakes Initiative, the USGS Great Lakes Science Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will conduct research to be used by natural resource agencies to restore and manage native fish species and their habitats in the Great Lakes. "We hope to improve our understanding of what these native fish need to survive and thrive. We will take a closer look at nearshore fishery habitats and examine the impact of exotic species. This information will be useful to management agencies to direct habitat and fish population restoration," said Dr. Smith.