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Status and trends of the Lake Huron offshore demersal fish community, 1976-2012

January 1, 2015

The USGS Great Lakes Science Center has conducted trawl surveys to assess annual changes in the offshore demersal fish community of Lake Huron since 1973. Sample sites include five ports in U.S. waters with less frequent sampling near Goderich, Ontario. The 2012 fall bottom trawl survey was carried out between 20 October – 5 November 2012 and included all U.S. ports as well as Goderich, ON. The 2012 main basin prey fish biomass estimate for Lake Huron was 97 kilotonnes, higher than the estimate in 2011 (63.2 Kt), approximately one third of the maximum estimate in the time series, and nearly 6 times higher than the minimum estimate in 2009. The biomass estimates for adult alewife in 2012 were higher than 2011, but remained much lower than observed before the crash in 2004, and populations were dominated by small fish. Estimated biomass of rainbow smelt also increased and was the highest observed since 2005. Estimated adult bloater biomass in Lake Huron has been increasing in recent years, and the 2012 biomass estimate was the third highest ever observed in the survey. Biomass estimates for trout-perch and ninespine stickleback were higher than in 2011 but still remained low compared to historic estimates. The estimated biomass of deepwater and slimy sculpins increased over 2011, and slimy sculpin in particular seem to be increasing in abundance. The 2012 biomass estimate for round goby was similar to that in 2011 and was the highest observed in the survey. Substantial numbers of wild juvenile lake trout were captured again in 2012, suggesting that natural reproduction by lake trout continues to occur. The 2012 Lake Huron bottom trawl survey results suggest that several species of offshore demersal fish are beginning to increase in abundance.

Publication Year 2015
Title Status and trends of the Lake Huron offshore demersal fish community, 1976-2012
Authors Edward F. Roseman, Stephen C. Riley, Steve A. Farha, Bryan M. Maitland, Taaja R. Tucker, Stacy A. Provo, Matthew W. McLean
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Index ID 70155016
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center