Lake Ontario Atlantic salmon Restoration Program
Bringing back wild populations of Atlantic salmon to Lake Ontario is one of the largest freshwater conservation projects in North America. More than 30 partners and sponsors are taking part in this effort.
Current restoration efforts are focused on three Lake Ontario streams: Duffins Creek, Credit River and Cobourg Brook. These streams were chosen because of their high-quality spawning and nursery habitat, and strong community support.
Launched in 2006, the Atlantic salmon restoration partnership will benefit from contributions of more than $5 million over five years by partners and sponsors. Funding and in-kind support are going towards enhanced fish production and stocking, research and monitoring, habitat rehabilitation and stewardship, and education and outreach initiatives.
Over 1,000,000 young Atlantic salmon have now been stocked from ministry and partner hatcheries since May 2006.
- Hundreds of volunteers have contributed thousands of hours of their time to help stock Atlantic salmon into suitable habitats.
- To improve chances for successful restoration of self-sustaining populations in Lake Ontario, several strains of Atlantic salmon with contrasting characteristics are being introduced.
RESEARCH AND MONITORING
- Program partners monitor returns of adult Atlantic salmon in each of the restoration streams, and are beginning to look for returning adults and signs of successful natural reproduction.
- Each Atlantic salmon brood fish in the hatchery has been implanted with a special microchip. A genetic profile for each individual fish will enable the program to obtain very accurate information about Atlantic salmon found in the streams and the lake during monitoring efforts.
- An area of the lake close to Cobourg Brook was surveyed this spring to assess the near shore conditions juvenile Atlantic salmon will face when they migrate out of the stream and into the lake.
HABITAT REHABILITATION AND STEWARDSHIP
- Partners and community volunteers have completed projects to improve and protect habitat for Atlantic salmon and other aquatic organisms. Projects included streamside plantings, stream-bank stabilization and construction of cattle crossings and fish by-pass channels.
EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
- Habitat rehabilitation and information workshops have been held on the three target watersheds and two proposed watersheds for the next phase of the restoration program (Bronte Creek and the Humber River).
- In 2008, about 40 schools and three outdoor education centres raised Atlantic salmon in classroom hatcheries. Students were able to observe the development of Atlantic salmon from the egg to feeding fry stage in a classroom setting and learn about conservation of natural aquatic ecosystems.
- Public and media events occur during each of the three annual stocking periods (April, May, October/November).