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DEC announces Lake Ontario fisheries meetings

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Fri, Sep 28th 2018 03:25 pm
DEC experts to discuss changes to Chinook salmon stocking for 2019
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced public meetings on the status of Lake Ontario's alewife population and changes to 2019 trout and salmon stocking. The meetings will be held in Niagara, Oswego and Monroe counties in October. 
"Lake Ontario and its tributaries provide world-class salmon and trout angling opportunities," Seggos said. "Salmon and trout fishing in Lake Ontario has been outstanding this season and DEC remains committed to ensuring that the ecological, recreational and economic benefits of this sport fishery are sustained through science-based management practices." 
Lake Ontario's world-class Chinook salmon fishery is dependent on a healthy alewife population as prey. Due to forecasted declines in the adult alewife population, DEC is acting to reduce predatory demands on alewife to promote the long-term sustainability of the trophy Chinook salmon fishery. Poor survival rates in 2013 and 2014 resulted in negative impacts on the adult alewife population. Survey results from 2018 confirmed these impacts are ongoing and indicated the large numbers of alewife produced in 2016 experienced lower-than-expected survival. In addition, below-average alewife production in 2017 exacerbated forecasted declines.
In an ongoing effort to effectively manage Lake Ontario fisheries, DEC reduced the number of Chinook salmon and lake trout stocked in Lake Ontario by 20 percent in 2017 and 2018. Based on this new information, DEC will reduce Chinook salmon stocking by an additional 20 percent in 2019. Combined salmon and trout stocking by DEC in Lake Ontario in 2019 will still exceed 2.7 million fish, and DEC biologists and fisheries managers are optimistic that excellent fishing will continue.
During the meetings, DEC will present the latest science guiding the state's efforts, and provide the opportunity for interested participants to ask questions. More information on the 2019 Salmon and Trout Stocking Levels in Lake Ontario is available on DEC's website. 
Locally, a meeting will take place from 6:30-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Building, 4487 Lake Ave., Lockport. Members of the public who cannot attend a meeting can provide comments via email to: [email protected]. For further information, contact Steve LaPan, New York Great Lakes Fisheries section head, at the Cape Vincent Fisheries Research Station: 315-654-2147. 
Lake Ontario waters comprise more than 2.7 million acres and support thriving populations of fish, including a variety of trout and salmon, bass, walleye, yellow perch and panfish. A recent statewide angler survey estimated more than 2.6 million angler days were spent on Lake Ontario and its major tributaries, with the estimated value of the fisheries exceeding $112 million annually for local economies.
DEC recently announced the 2018 fishing season yielded outstanding results, with catch rates on Lake Ontario for Chinook salmon 227 percent above the previous five-year average. The catch rate for all trout and salmon species combined also surpassed the previous record high, more than 37 percent above the previous five-year average.

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