December 6th, 1999
We thank the
Canadian Fly Fisher for re-print permission!
Saving Superior's Coastal Brook Trout:
TUC and TU Agree on Common Ground
By Jan Normandale
Trout Unlimited (Canada) and Trout Unlimited met at the TU National
Convention in Copper Mountain, Colorado, August 19, 1999. The
meeting was held to determine opportunities to work together on trans-border
issues of mutual interest. Using the Pacific Salmon Treaty as a working model
for future collaboration, many issues were discussed. Each group covered
issues that were considered to be significant trans-border conserns.
One topic which was of genuine common interest was the seriously endangered
native coastal brook trout fishery of Lake Superior. This fishery was at one time
well docmented through anecdotal information such as verbal and photographic
records. By the late 1890s the fishery had been almost eradicated through
over-harvesting. A fishery was also believed to have been present on Lake
Huron, although this is still being researched.
Today, on the US side of Lake Superior, the fishery is being supported through
the egg gathering of various river-specific strains of coaster brook trout from
a number of locations. These include Isle Royale in the western basin of Lake
Superior and other sites where remnant populations are known but closely guarded
for their own safety. The States of Wsconsin and Michigan are actively attempting
to restore the fish. However, they are prudently attempting to first get a genetically
diverse brood stock before proceeding with transporting fish to individual watersheds.
There is also a three year program of identification of streams whose profiles
meet those requirements for coasters to spawn in and live in for a year prior to theer
moving into the Lake. This program is to be completed in 1999 and will be the
basis for much of the future direction for the restoration efforts on the US side
of the Superior basin.
The Province of Ontario has worked with their American counterparts in providing
eggs from the world famous Nipigon strain of brook trout. A share of these eggs
was sent to Native American tribal land sites for rearing. However, it is believed
that the balance of the coasters on the Canadain shore have also been decimated
or lost. There is much to be done in Ontario to help restore the species. This
challenge is one that is believed to be of mutual interest as an example of a
trans-border cooperative effort. This weill require dedication and patience since
all indications suggest at this will be a long term operation.
Trout Unlimited Canada will work with Trout Unlimited, and with the Ontario
provincial ministries to help restore the coaster population, which appears
to have been the unfortunage victim of oversight. TUC will commit to
working to restore the fishery through the use of its partnering strategies; fund
raising; and working relationships with the Ministry of Natural Resources, our
American neighbours in Trout Unlimited, and their associated strategic allies.
~ Jan Normandale,
Trout Unlimited Canada
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