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Status and trends in the Lake Superior fish community, 2021

December 31, 2022

The Lake Superior nearshore fish community was sampled in May-June 2021 with daytime bottom trawl tows at 45 stations located in USA waters. The 45 locations sampled were long-term monitoring sites that had been annually sampled since 1978. All comparisons to 2021 results were limited to past collections from USA waters, as compared to previous years, where comparisons included USA and Canadian sites. In 2021, the number of species collected at each site ranged from 0 to 15, with a median of 5 species. Average fish biomass was 6.3 kg/ha, which was higher than the average observed over the past 10 years (4.7 kg/ha), similar to the average observed from 2001-10 (6.7 kg/ha), and less than the averages observed in 1991-2000 (14.8 kg/ha), and 1981-1990 (11.9 kg/ha), but higher than the average from 1978-1980 (5.2 kg/ha). Average biomass in 2021 was highest for Lake Whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis, 3.2 kg/ha), Bloater (C. hoyi, 1.4 kg/ha), Rainbow Smelt (Osmerus mordax, 0.5 kg/ha), and Cisco (C. artedi, 0.3 kg/ha). Coregonus spp. year-class strength, as measured by densities of age-1 fish, was 8 fish/ha for Bloater, 11 fish/ha for Cisco, and 41 fish/ha for Lake Whitefish. The age-1 Bloater estimate was in the range observed for the 2014, 2015, and 2016 year-classes (7-9 age-1 fish/ha) and greater than that observed in other years over the past decade (<1 age-1 fish/ha). The age-1 Cisco estimate was the highest estimate since the 2009 year-class. Average Lake Whitefish age-1 density was the second highest estimate observed over the past 44-years. Cisco survival to age-1 has been low since 2009 and near zero since the 2014- and 2015-year classes. This lack of survival has yet to be adequately explained and continues to be a major concern of fishery managers due to Cisco’s importance in ecosystem dynamics and value to the commercial fishery.

Publication Year 2022
Title Status and trends in the Lake Superior fish community, 2021
Authors Mark Vinson, Daniel Yule, Lori M. Evrard, Owen T. Gorman, Sydney B Phillips
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Organization Series
Index ID 70240326
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center