Ontario Power Generation action plan for the recovery of the American eel in Lake Ontario/Upper St. Lawrence River 2006 to 2011
The key components of the Ontario Power Generation Action Plan include trapping and transporting mature eels, stocking of young eels, and monitoring the effectiveness of these measures.
Transporting Mature Eels Around Generating Stations
- Ontario Power Generation, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Fisheries and Oceans Canada are conducting studies to see if mature eels can be captured in Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River and trucked downstream to the lower St. Lawrence.
- The federal government's contribution to this initiative has been and will continue to be primarily in the form of its scientific research capacity and collaboration with the various parties. Some of the work currently underway includes the compilation of fish habitat inventories to understand the current status and condition of eel habitat within its historical range.
- Transporting the eels allows them to avoid hydroelectric generating stations on the St. Lawrence.
- In 2008, commercial fishermen are engaged to capture live, large eels (over 2.5 lb.) using traditional fishing gear. The eels are being collected, measured and tagged by the Ministry of Natural Resources.
- Ontario Power Generation is trucking the eels downstream to Quebec where they are being released into Lac St Pierre (near Trois Rivières) with the assistance of the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec.
- In future years, Ontario Power Generation will confirm that these eels are not negatively affected by the capture and transport process, and that they do subsequently undertake a spawning migration out of the St. Lawrence River back to the Atlantic Ocean.
Stocking Young Eels into the Upper St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario
- In addition to the above program, Ontario Power Generation is acquiring young eels, known as "glass" eels, in the Maritimes and stocking them into the upper St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.
- The glass eels are collected by commercial fishers in the Maritimes as they migrate from the ocean into the estuaries of Maritime rivers in the spring.
- The glass eels are extensively tested for pathogens and parasites at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island before being authorized for shipment by truck to Ontario.
- The glass eels are being released into several areas in the St. Lawrence River and eastern Lake Ontario with good habitat for young eels.
- Ontario Power Generation and the Ministry of Natural Resources will be monitoring the success of the stocking to confirm that the glass eels survive and grow.
- Ontario Power Generation will be releasing a few million glass eels over about a four-year period in the hope that this action will accelerate the recovery of the American eel in Ontario.
*American eel is an important commercial fish species with no relationship to the species commonly referred to in Ontario as lamprey eel.