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Monday, January 25 • 11:40am - 12:00pm
Cisco Assessment in Northeastern Lake Michigan

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AUTHORS: Jason B. Smith*, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians; Annalise M. Povolo, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division

ABSTRACT: Recent decreases in alewife Alosa pseudoharengus abundance have increased both interest in and opportunity for restoration of Lake Michigan native planktivores such as cisco Coregonus artedi. Anecdotal evidence, including increased recreational and assessment catch, suggest that Lake Michigan cisco stocks are expanding from their current, near historic low, levels of abundance. However, even if the cisco population is expanding, it is possible that successful restoration may require stocking of an appropriate strain or strains. Since 2014, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Fisheries Enhancement Facility has released more than 50,000 cisco into Little Traverse Bay. Accurate assessment of the Lake Michigan cisco population is needed both to understand the status of the remnant population as well as to assess the efficacy of current and future stocking efforts. Our lake-wide assessment effort focuses on three areas: (1) gaining a better understand of the life history of the remnant Lake Michigan cisco stock; (2) quantifying population demographics of this stock; and (3) detecting and/or quantifying the effect of the current LTBB Hatchery effort. In spring of 2015, we used shallow set gillnets and beach seines to successfully determine that both juvenile, immature and mature fish inhabit nearshore waters less than 10 meters deep. Lake Michigan cisco appear to become pelagic as spring progresses into summer. Therefore, we are using vertical gill nets, suspended gillnets, hydroacoustic monitoring, and pelagic trawls in an effort to document the extent of their seasonal range within the lake. Our fall sampling effort is aimed at identifying previously unknown spawning reefs throughout Northeastern Lake Michigan as well as collecting eggs for the LTBB Hatchery. Ultimately, we plan to use our increased knowledge of Lake Michigan cisco to construct a long-term lake-wide assessment protocol leading to well informed decisions regarding cisco restoration.

Monday January 25, 2016 11:40am - 12:00pm EST
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