Download NYS DEC MEETING: 10 Aug 16, 1830hrs

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NYS DEC MEETING: 10 Aug 16, 1830hrs
Great Lakes Fishery Commission #1 priority: Maintain the Chinook Salmon Fishery! This goal can
NOT be met without maintaining a sufficient alewife population.
This meeting was scheduled by the DEC for Guides Lake Captains and business owners associated with
the fishery to explain the current status of forage (alewives) to King Salmon.
1. After two severe winters, the adult alewife population (fish age 2 and older) declined markedly
from 2015 to 2016.
2. The size of the 2015 year class was well below the average form 1994-2015.
This has resulted in an overall low census of alewives in the lake now, through 2017 and perhaps
beyond! Kings are the key driver on the alewife population. Continuing to stock Kings at the current
level (U.S. - 1.76 mil & Canada -300K) will result in over predation of alewives, a potential crash in the
forage base and the eventual elimination of Kings in the Lake!!!
Bad News:
1. To maintain a healthy alewife population a cut in the stocking numbers of Kings is required!
(Note: The results of the alewife trawls are being analyzed by DEC & USGS Scientist at the moment.
They will make a stocking reduction recommendation to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and these
numbers will be made available through three public meetings run by the DEC later this year.
2. There is no quick fix.
a. The 3, 4 & 5 year classes of alewives are missing from the lake.
b. Stocking reductions with not impact until at least 2 – 3 years from now
c. Stocking additional Lake Trout will have NO impact. They are slow growing and will
have little impact on catch-rates until 2022.
d. No additional Brown Trout are available as hatcheries servicing Browns are running
at maximum capacity.
3. To some extent we have been spoiled by some incredible salmon runs in recent years. Not every
day on the river is going to be a 20 fish day!
Good News:
1. There is a plan! Fisheries Personnel have clearly identified the problem and are on their way to a
specific solution.
2. This is NOT a catastrophic problem. These issues naturally go up and down as nature balances
3. This is a TEMPORARY issue. Unlike Lakes Superior, Huron and possibly Michigan, Lake
Ontario has not lost ALL alewives! With Superior, Huron & Michigan the loss of forage is tied
to a loss of nutrients and has significantly changed the ecology of these lakes.
(Note: Lake Michigan has reduced King Salmon Stocking by 62% in 2017. Lakes Superior and Huron
are no longer stocking Kings.)
4. Lake Ontario’s current forage problem CAN be handled with temporary stocking reductions.
5. Lake Ontario has a history of good management over the last 40 plus years! It is noted for the
diversity of the fishery, the size of the Kings and is often noted as the “best King Salmon
fishery” east of the Rockies.
6. Lake Ontario experienced a reduction in King stocking in 2008 and still had very high catch rates
in the following years.
7. When alewife populations fell in Lakes Superior and Huron, both Lake Trout and Landlocked
Atlantic Salmon came roaring back. Both these native fish are very susceptible to Early
Mortality Syndrome, a disease caused by the Thiaminase in the skin of the alewife. Lake
Ontario could see a spike in these two species over the next several years.
8. The USGS has been stocking the native forage fish, the Cisco, in Lake Ontario since 2011. The
Cisco is the perfect forage fish; high fat, high protein and soft-rayed.
9. One of the long-term problems in managing Lake Ontario and the other Great lakes was the
conflicting jurisdictions; 2 countries and 8 states. The cooperation between the Province of
Ontario and NYS is as good as it can get!!! There is an Ontario Fisheries representative at all our
There were, of course, many questions and the DEC plus the representative from the Ontario Ministry of
Natural Resources stayed on until all questions had been answered. It was clear that the DEC was
interested in our input. Fisheries Managers have a difficult job trying to satisfy a number of different
constituencies plus, at last count, there were 187 invasive species in Lake Ontario. They seldom are
thanked and they certainly deserve our thanks for the meeting and their planning!!!
The representatives asked us to be patient and stayed informed. Specifically they noted that anytime
there is a down-turn in the fishery there is a very negative tone to web-posting from guides and Captains
trying to place blame. The result is that this tone infects the population we market too, resulting in
decreased business. There is a lesson there!
Rocky Rockwell, (USA ret.)
Zero Limit Adventures