Sea Grant Institute Leads Fishing Public to Freshwater Info,
Oswego Daily News
Submitted by New York Sea Grant
Through two Great Lakes Fisheries Leadership Institute
workshops sponsored and led by New York Sea Grant, New
York's fishing community is learning the latest information
on freshwater fisheries management, the Great Lakes food
webs, invasive species, fish stocking and current research.
Ed Sander, a Monroe County Fisheries Advisory Board member
and an advisor to the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission,
attended the Lake Ontario workshop (a second workshop
was held on Lake Erie). Sander will share what he learned
with the boards he serves and with sportfishing clubs
and charter boat associations.
"In addition to the habitat and ecology information,
I will emphasize uncertainty and its effect on fisheries
management, and the role of invasives," Sander says.
"The key issue for the Great Lakes is to absolutely
get control of invasive species - they are the single
most disruptive factor in the system.
"(New York Sea Grant Fisheries Specialist) Dave
MacNeill's presentation on the history of what the (Lake
Ontario) fishery once was, and what it has become, was
very insightful. This information helps groups think about
the fishery and perhaps why a conservative approach to
stocking is more timely now than in the past when the
forage base was stronger and the bottom of the food web
was different," says Sander, one of NOAA's Environmental
Heroes of the Year for 2002.
Invasives Cannot be Ignored
Charter Captain Mitch Franz chairs the Jefferson County
Fisheries Board and is a member of the Lake Ontario Fisheries
Coalition and the Henderson Harbor Guides Association.
"The charter industry has a stake in fisheries management
because of what the industry draws to the area economically.
From a research standpoint, the charter industry often
casts a line into the water and brings up something no
one has found yet," says Franz. "While the eastern
end is less affected by exotic species at the moment,
the spread of invasives throughout the Great Lakes cannot
Encouraging Citizen Scientists
Doug Ververs, Team Coordinator for Cornell Cooperative
Extension of Oswego County, says the workshop encouraged
attendees to become "citizen scientists."
"The scientific-based information shared provides
educators, charter captains, and other (lake) resource
users with direct, first-hand knowledge about the dramatic
changes and fluctuating environment of the lake. The insights
shared make attendees able to become spokespeople who
can tell others that (fish) stocking decisions are not
driven by one single factor," says Ververs.
"They can now explain that the filtering of the
lake water by (invasive) zebra and quagga mussels means
Pacific salmon cannot be stocked the way they were prior
to the peak stocking period in the mid-1980s (with a constant
level held through the early 90s)," he adds.
"An overall stocking mix that blends stocked fish
with wild native fish can make a much better system that
will support the (lake region's) economy which is based
on hospitality and tourism," Ververs says.
What Kind of Legacy Will We Leave?
"The workshop prompts the question: is our generation
interested in developing a legacy that creates cleaner
water and leaves healthier fish for our grandchildren
to catch and consume, or do we want to "push the
envelope" of the biological food chain to the limits
by stocking more fish, than the lake can now support?
Past experience in Lake Michigan has shown that when
a fish population "crashes," the recovery is
not a quick process and could well last a decade or longer,"
For More Information
For more information on New York Sea Grant's Great Lakes
program, including sportfisheries development, aquatic
nuisances and invasives, boating and marina facilities,
coastal erosion, coastal tourism, sand dunes, underwater
cultural resources, Native American Lands Initiative,
and youth education, visit www.nysgextension.org