A new, sophisticated fish rearing facility in Cortland, N.Y. will help restore Atlantic salmon and bloater herring to Lake Ontario, strengthening the local ecosystem and economy.
To restore the population, young Atlantic salmon are reared at the USGS Tunison Lab and released in Lake Ontario tributaries. The new USGS water treatment facility will use ultraviolet disinfection to prevent any possible spread of disease, permitting wild fish and eggs to be held and disease-free fish to be reared for restoration release.
Historically, the Lake Ontario population of Atlantic salmon represented the largest freshwater population of salmon in the world. However, they were eliminated over a century as a result of overfishing and loss of spawning habitat from dam construction
"This salmon release project is a critical first step in improving the fishery by creating a population of Atlantic salmon better adapted to existing lake and stream conditions," said USGS scientist Jim Johnson. "It will simultaneously stock bloaters and lake herring to bolster the lake’s fishing industry."
The Lake Ontario salmon restoration project is part of a coordinated effort among the USGS Great Lakes Science Center and state, tribal, and Canadian fishery resource managers.
Funding for the USGS Tunison Laboratory's salmon rearing capabilities comes from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and from a 2005 Congressional appropriation.
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