Stocking of lake trout in Burnt Island area cancelled

Lake Trout (Shutter Stock)

BURNT ISLAND—While its lake trout rehabilitation plan for all areas of the province is still not yet completed, a representative of the Upper Great Lakes Management Unit (UGLMU) of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has indicated the plan will include the cancellation of stocking a significant amount of lake trout in the Duck Islands-Burnt Island area.

“We are going to be backing off on planting lake trout in the Duck Island-Burnt Island area,” Dave Reid told the Recorder late last week. “While the plan has not been finalized, in the work and investigation we have carried out we are seeing a lot of naturel reproduction of the fish.” He also noted the US has been stocking the fish, which has also increased numbers.

Mr. Reid said, “we are seeing some poorer survival rates of lake trout in some areas of Georgian Bay and the North Channel. This is understandable in areas closer to the St. Mary’s River in Sault Ste. Marie, due to sea lamprey numbers. But we are seeing very good reproduction and survival numbers in the main basin of Georgian Bay and the North Channel.”

On the proposal to cancel stocking in the Duck Islands-Burnt Island areas, Drew Purvis of Purvis Bros. Fisheries Limited, said, “this is good news to a point, but they need to quit stocking all lake trout in any waters. They don’t listen to anybody. There are more trout in the area than they have any idea of and without a proper assessment being taken they should and have to stop stocking lake trout.”

“There is no one around in the MNR to know when the lakes were full of trout in the 1930s and 1940s as they are now,” said Mr. Purvis. “They don’t seem to have an idea what affects stocking more of these fish is going to have on other species of fish. They have to quit stocking any lake trout.”

“Those trout will eat anything in a lake, it doesn’t matter what species of fish it is,” continued Mr. Purvis. “If they plant lake trout for five years, all they will be doing is feeding lake trout themselves because there won’t be anything else around. The trout are cleaning out the lake because they eat everything.”

The UGLMU-MNR had proposed to stock 312,000 lake trout in the Burnt Island-Duck Islands area, as previously reported.

However, as Mr. Purvis had pointed out in the January 25, 2013 edition of the Recorder, information shows there is over 50 percent natural reproduction of lake trout, so the company doesn’t feel they should be planting more lake trout in these area waters. He pointed out as well, the MNR proposal would see areas not stocked with more lake trout if evidence shows there are five sea lamprey wounds per 100 trout inspected. Purvis Brothers gets about 10 wounds for every lake trout they see. They indicated if there is above five wounds per 100 fish (caused by sea lamprey) it could be detrimental to trout.

“As I said at our last meeting, between the lamprey and natural reproduction of lake trout already, they shouldn’t be looking at planting more here,” stated Mr. Purvis. “There is already a large population of lake trout around now; the ministry has never planted lake trout in this area before, and they are still reproducing, so why bring the ones from the provincial hatcheries to stock here? They indicated at the meeting that with all this evidence in place, maybe they shouldn’t be stocking more fish here and will be reviewing the area once again.”

The LTR plan proposal calls for the area from Little Current to Gore Bay getting 520,938 lake trout to be stocked, remains in place, said Mr. Reid.

As reported previously, Manitoulin area waters have been slated to be stocked with over 800,000 lake trout per year (from 2012-2020) as part of a proposed lake trout rehabilitation (LTR) plan released by the UPGLMU-Ontario MNR. The LTR plan has a list of 17 priority stocking locations in the province, four deferred and 12 the province is proposing for stocking to take place.

“The Americans are seriously looking at what the look of future stocking is going to be as well,” said Mr. Reid.

As for the completion of the LTR plan, “we’re pretty well finished in getting public’s input into the proposal, and will be amalgamating all this information and making the needed changes before it is done,” said Mr. Reid. “We expect the plan will be written by the end of the year.”