Originally Published in the January/February 1992 issue of The Outfitter Magazine.
An Update from the Ministry of Natural Resources
Editor’s Note: The following information was recently received from the MNR. NOTO had requested more detail on the “twelve significant fishery research projects” that the MNR is conducting in the province.
The Ministry of Natural Resources recognizes the great importance of fishing to the tourist industry in Northern Ontario. In support of fisheries management, the Ministry has for many years made a major commitment to fisheries of Northern Ontario.
There is a continuing need to provide quality fishing opportunities, while also protecting the fisheries resources from over-harvest. There are no simple answers to this vital requirement. It is a matter of finding a reasonable balance of resource use and resource protection or, in other words, sustainable development. The Ministry is exploring how better to achieve this balance, and will look to discussions with NOTO to explore what a “quality” fishing opportunity is for NOTO clients, and how the tourism industry can best make use of the fisheries resources available to it.
NOTO has been a major participant is strategic fisheries planning (SPOF II). There is also a need for more detailed tactical-level planning. Representatives of the Ministry and NOTO should meet and explore how better use of existing resources can be achieved and the industry enhanced. Fisheries Policy Branch will be consulting with NOTO and with other parts of the Ministry as to how best approach this.
OMNR presently employs 11 permanent staff members in Fisheries research in two locations in Northern Ontario. Nine staff are located in Thunder Bay at the Centre for Northern Forest Ecosystem Research (CNFER) and the Fisheries Productivity Unit and two employees are located at the Cooperative Fisheries Research Unit at Laurentian University, Sudbury. These groups are involved in cooperative research and educational programs at Lakehead and Laurentian Universities, thereby incorporating graduate student research studies and public education and involvement in their activities.
OMNR scientists and technical staff at both northern locations conduct fisheries and socio-economic research designed to ensure the health and productivity of aquatic ecosystems and fisheries for both the short and long-term benefit of the people of Northern Ontario. The research projects presently being conducted include:
Studies of the effects of logging practices on fisheries in boreal forest lakes;
Studies of the effectiveness of Ministry of Natural Resources Timber Management Guidelines for protection of tourism values in Northern Ontario;
Studies of factors influencing fish production in northern lakes and rivers;
Studies of the environmental and habitat requirements of lake trout;
Studies of the effects of fishing on the abundance and productivity of walleye populations in northern lakes, to determine optimum harvest strategies;
Studies to rehabilitate Aurora trout in the Smoothwater-Lady Evelyn Wilderness park;
Fish stocking assessment studies for rehabilitation of acid damaged lakes using various strains of lake trout and testing success of egg versus yearling releases;
Studies of the fitness of hatchery-reared lake trout after released into lakes;
Growth and migration studies of brook trout in the Sutton River;
Studies of watershed manipulations for rehabilitation of acid damaged lakes;
Studies of spawning site selection by lake trout with reference to the use of preferred alternate and artificial sites;
Studies of the effect of water draw-downs and water level fluctuations on release of acid and metals into lakes from acidified watersheds.
In addition to these projects located in Northern Ontario, OMNR supports other research which addresses fisheries concerns in Northern Ontario. Work is under way on the effects of climate change on fish distribution and production; population dynamics and habitat requirements of lake trout, brook trout, lake whitefish, burbot, and walleye; determination of the genetic diversity of fish stocks in Ontario; genetic research in support of fish culture and rehabilitation of fisheries, and studies to improve techniques for age and growth determination of northern fish in support of population dynamics research, fish stocking assessment, and evaluation of the effects of various ecological stressors (e.g. acidification, contaminants).
Further information is included on the twelve projects listed above. For more detailed information, please contact the appropriate research unit directly.
PROJECTS ## 1 & 2
Under Ontario’s Class Environmental Assessment for Timber Management, currently in progress, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) has committed to providing detailed information about the environmental effects of timber management on Ontario’s crown lands, and about the effectiveness and existing guidelines to protect tourism values in Northern Ontario. To deliver this and other scientific information related to fisheries and tourism, OMNR established the Fisheries and Tourism Effects research Unit based at the Centre for Northern Forest Ecosystem Research (CNFER), on Lakehead University Campus in Thunder Bay. Other research related to the protection of fish and wildlife habitat, heritage resources and sustainable forestry is also under way at CNFER.
The Tourism Research program will provide conceptual and quantitative information about the adequacy of Ontario’s Timber Management Guidelines for the protection of tourism values, and provide guidance, where necessary, for the objective modification of these guidelines.
Experimental and comparative research will address the questions:
How effective are the Timber Management Guidelines for the Protection of Tourism Values in protecting tourism values in the various geographic regions of Northern Ontario?;
What is the relative importance of different landscape attributes in determining tourist satisfaction and return rate?
Do tourists in Northern Ontario have environmental or aesthetic concerns that are not addressed adequately by the guidelines?
The “tourism experience” consists of a number of tangible as well as intangible elements. Behavioural research provides a variety of approaches to study client satisfaction, attitudes, perception, preferences, and choices. There is considerable latitude in the Guidelines with regard to the selection and application of techniques to preserve tourism values. This study will be designed to provide detailed monitoring and documentation of results in a diverse set of environmental and economical circumstances across Northern Ontario. The intent is to develop useful and reliable generalizations about the performance of the Guidelines, as they are applied to the various types of tourism operations that may be affected by timber management.
The project is now entering its second year, and is expected to last approximately ten years in total. An inter-ministry steering committee (including NOTO and 6 other organizations) have been established to guide and review the research projects.
For further information contact:
Dr. Wolfgang Haider,
Tourism Research Scientist
OMNR Fisheries and Tourism
CNFER, Lakehead University
955 Oliver Road
Thunder Bay, Ontario P7B 5E1
PROJECT ## 3
PRODUCTIVITY RESEARCH UNIT
The primary objective of the Productivity Unit’s research program is to provide a conceptual basis and methodology for the derivation of potential fish yield in lakes, reservoirs, and streams of Ontario, in order that rational management might be applied for the future protection and wise use of all available fish stocks. The component parts of the program are totally integrated towards this goal.
For further information contact:
Productivity Research Unit
Box 2089 Thunder Bay P7B 5E7
PROJECT ## 4
STUDIES OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND HABITAT REQUIREMENTS OF LAKE TROUT
The objective is to characterize the habitat requirements of lake trout with reference to impacts of shoreline development. Data on angling yields from across the province are being analyzed to evaluate the importance of physical and chemical lake variables on lake trout production. Results to date indicate that the production of wild, self-sustaining stocks depends on the amount high-quality summer habitat, as characterized by temperature and dissolved oxygen regimes. Chemical models linking nutrient inputs and thermal regime to lake metabolism will be used to model the influence of lakeshore development on lake trout habitat and production.
For further information contact:
Dr. Dave Evans
Fisheries Research Station
Box 5000, Maple, Ontario
PROJECT ## 5
WALLEYE RESEARCH UNIT
The Walleye Research Unit is presently conducting a research program to provide generalizations and inferences for managing Ontario’s Walleye resource. The focus is on finding a means to optimize harvesting and to assess that status of various walleye fisheries. Future research contributions will be directed towards: gaining a better understanding of species interactions and population behaviour as they influence energy transfer through the aquatic community; developing more refined techniques to appraise disturbed fisheries by identifying the specific effects of various stressors; and developing methods to quantify quality of the fishing experience.
In 1985, the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Associations co-sponsored the publication of the Proceedings of the conference on “WALLEYE AND TOURISM: Future Management Strategies”. This publication was produced by the Walleye Research Unit.
For further information contact:
Dr. Peter Colby, 807-475-1636
Walleye Research Unit
Box 5000, Thunder Bay
PROJECT ## 6
AURORA TROUT REHABILITATION
GOAL: To re-establish a reproducing population of Aurora Trout in the lakes where this endangered species is native in Smoothwater-Lady Evelyn Wilderness Park.
Includes; conduct standard in-site bioassay to assess water quality improvement resulting from 1989 liming of whirling Lake; set plexi-glass traps to assess reproductive success of 1990 adult stocking; complete stocking of lake with 4 year old fish from North Bay; conduct spawning assessment and calculate abundance and production estimates; if necessary, conduct hormone treatments of adults to induce spawning.
PROJECTS ## 7 & 8
STOCKING ASSESSMENT AND EXPERIMENTAL MANAGEMENT PROJECTS
GOAL: to develop techniques for the rehabilitation of damaged fisheries.
Lake Trout Strain Comparisons:
Testing relative survival, growth and spawning success of Slate Island strain vs. Killalla lake trout (LT) strain in two types of Sudbury lakes (shallow lakes with perch, deep lakes with cisco).
First assessment netting began in May 1991. Reasonable numbers of fish were collected from perch lakes: as in past, cisco lakes appeared to greatly restrict survival of stocked LT.
Yearling vs. Embryo Lake Trout
To assess the effectiveness of embryo fish planting on potential spawning shoals compared to traditional yearling plants in the open water.
First assessment planned for 1992.
Open Water vs. Through the Ice Planting of Lake Trout
To assess the relative survival of lake trout planted through the ice in March compared to the traditional open water planting in May. Two lakes in Sudbury - similar study in 6 more lakes by North Bay district.
First assessment planned for 1993.
PROJECT ## 9
GROWTH AND MIGRATION OF SUTTON RIVER BROOK TROUT
Examining the cost/benefit of anadromous behaviour (migrating up river to spawn) of trophy brook trout in the Sutton River (drains into Hudson Bay). This project is part of a larger study of the angling fishery on the Sutton River. The next three projects deal with different aspects of ecosystem rehabilitation. The general goal is to assess the functioning of stressed ecosystems and develop and test methods of rehabilitating damaged systems.
PROJECT ## 10
DAISY LAKE WATERSHED MANIPULATION
To develop and test procedures for improving stream and lake water quality by watershed manipulation (land liming, tree planting). Daisy Lake is a fully acidic lake (pH 4.7) contaminated by toxic metals (Cu, Ni) from nearby smelters. Long-term experiments will involve a variety of mini-watershed treatments to test their effectiveness at improving runoff water quality.
PROJECT ## 11
USE OF ALTERNATE SPAWNING SITES BY LAKE TROUT: TESTING THE “NO NET LOSS POLICY”
To determine whether LT have a specific critical habitat that cannot be replaced - by fencing off access to traditional spawning sites and assessing alternate choices made by spawning fish. With each successive year, access to move more and more of the traditional sites will be blocked. At the end of the experiment, fences will be removed and site selection again determined.
Project begins with complete mapping of all “potential” sites in September and detailed mapping of egg deposition in October.
PROJECT ## 12
WATER DRAW-DOWN AND LAKE REACIDIFICATION
With vast amounts of stored reduced sulfur and metals in the wetlands and lake sediments, recovering lakes in the Sudbury area could rapidly reacidify if drought conditions are encountered. Lower water levels could cause oxidation of sulphide and leaching of metals by acidic water when fall rains finally come. Such a release of acids and metals appeared to have occurred after Lake Laurentian was drained in 1984.
Planning an experimental drawdown on Sans Chambre Lake to test this drought theory.
MOE has 10 years of water quality information on Sans Chambre.
Mapping of location of Smallmouth Bass nest sites to be completed in June 1991 (draw-down would be in July after fry emergence). Stocked bass are the only fish in the lake and they receive very limited angling effort.
For further information on projects 6 through 12, contact the MNR - Laurentian University Cooperative Fisheries Research Unit at Sudbury. Phone Dr. John Gunn at 705-675-1151 (ext.2291).