Our Man In Canada
December 6th, 1999

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,
National Director,
Trout Unlimited Canada

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