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Report notes efforts to restore Lake Ontario cisco populations

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Mon, Feb 25th 2019 12:50 pm

New York Sea Grant, the Cornell University department of natural resources, The Nature Conservancy and the SUNY College at Oswego have published a summary report for a workshop on “Identifying Research Priorities for Cisco in Lake Ontario.” More than 30 local, state and international experts participated in the workshop. The report is available online at https://seagrant.sunysb.edu/articles/r/12915.

"Efforts to increase native cisco populations in Lake Ontario will support a more diverse forage base for predators, including salmon and trout, that draw significant numbers of anglers to Lake Ontario," said New York Sea Grant Fisheries and Ecosystem Health Specialist Jesse M. Lepak, Ph.D., Oswego.

The workshop participants identified critical cisco research priorities, including the need to:

  • Develop fast, accurate, affordable and field-ready cisco identification techniques to differentiate the whitefishes that include cisco;
  • Identify factors, such as weather and predation, that influence cisco reproductive success; and
  • Develop a collaborative Lake Ontario-wide assessment strategy for cisco.

In 2017, fisheries scientists with the USGS, Cornell University department of natural resources, The Nature Conservancy, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation published their observations from 2014, which confirmed Cisco spawning in Chaumont Bay in Jefferson County – suspected as one of the last remaining spawning populations of cisco in Lake Ontario. The workshop participants in 2018 agreed more research is needed to understand and restore cisco, formerly an abundant prey fish and commercial important species supporting fisheries in Lake Ontario.

To learn more about New York Sea Grant, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, visit www.nyseagrant.org.

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