Date of this Version
Published in Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 62: 1432–1451 (2005). Doi: 10.1139/F05-061
We review the status of the Lake Huron fish community between 1970 and 1999 and explore the effects of key stressors. Offshore waters changed little in terms of nutrient enrichment, while phosphorus levels declined in inner Saginaw Bay. Introduced mussels (Dreissena spp.) proliferated and may have caused a decline in Diporeia spp. This introduction could have caused a decline in lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) growth and condition, with serious repercussions for commercial fisheries. Bythotrephes, an exotic predatory cladoceran, and other new exotics may be influencing the fish community. Sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) remained prevalent, but intensive control efforts on the St. Mary’s River may reduce their predation on salmonines. Overfishing was less of a problem than in the past, although fishing continued to reduce the amount of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) spawning biomass resulting from hatchery-reared fish planted to rehabilitate this species. Massive stocking programs have increased the abundance of top predators, but lake trout were rehabilitated in only one area. Successful lake trout rehabilitation may require lower densities of introduced pelagic prey fish than were seen in the 1990s, along with continued stocking of hatchery-reared lake trout and control of sea lamprey. Such reductions in prey fish could limit Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) fisheries.