Agencies seek to sustain diverse, high quality salmon and trout fishing opportunities
into the future
Ann Arbor, MI, December 20, 2019 - In response to an adult alewife population that
continues to decline, the Lake Ontario Committee (LOC) today announced Chinook salmon
and lake trout stocking reductions in 2020 designed to maintain future recreational
and economic benefits of Lake Ontario's sport fisheries. The stocking reductions
will help balance the predatory demand on alewife to help maintain Lake Ontario's
world-class salmon and trout fishery. Today's actions represent a consensus decision
by the two-member LOC, composed of the New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation (DEC) and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF).
The bi-national Great Lakes Fishery Commission facilitates the LOC's work.
To help balance predator demand on alewife, the LOC reduced Chinook salmon and lake
trout stocking in 2017 and 2018 by 20%. Chinook salmon stocking was reduced by an
additional 20% in 2019. For 2020, the LOC has agreed to reduce Chinook salmon and
lake trout stocking by an additional 20% from 2019 levels. Adult lake trout abundance
is currently stable, and reduced stocking should not compromise restoration efforts
of this important native predator. In 2020, DEC and OMNRF plan to stock approximately
1.1 million Chinook Salmon, 602,000 lake trout, 756,000 steelhead/rainbow trout,
557,000 brown trout, 325,000 coho salmon and 200,000 yearling Atlantic salmon into
Lake Ontario in 2020. In addition, many Lake Ontario tributaries produce "wild"
Chinook salmon each year. "Wild" Chinook salmon comprise an average of 50% of the
adult salmon population.
These 2020 stocking adjustments emphasize the LOC's shared commitment to the Lake
Ontario Fish Community Objectives including restoring lake trout and sustaining
Lake Ontario's diverse salmon and trout fishery, with Chinook salmon as the top
predator. Maintaining sufficient alewife abundance to support the sport fishery
is key to long term success, and these stocking reductions will help achieve that
Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, OMNRF and DEC forecasted declines in
the adult alewife population following the relatively severe winters of 2013/14
and 2014/15 that contributed to poor alewife reproductive success. Alewife produced
in 2016 contributed substantially to the population initially, but their numbers
are declining rapidly due to high Predatory demand on the remaining adults. Alewife
population survey results indicate below average alewife production in 2017 and
2018 and higher than expected predator demand, and scientists are predicting a continued
adult alewife decline in 2020. The LOC is concerned that projected alewife declines
combined with high predator demand by trout and salmon will intensify an imbalance
between predators and available prey, and these stocking reductions are necessary
to restore predator-prey balance and maintain high-quality Chinook salmon fisheries.
The LOC is optimistic that Lake Ontario will remain a premier sport fishing destination
and anglers should expect continued high-quality fishing opportunities. The LOC
will continue to monitor Lake Ontario's alewife population, predator growth rates,
fish condition factors, and the effects of the 2017-2020 stocking adjustments. This
collaborative process represents the best available science to promote sustainable
and diverse fisheries for Lake Ontario. The LOC will continue to engage organized
angler groups, tourism interests, and the public when future survey results become
For more information, visit the Lake Ontario Committee online at www.glfc.org/lakecom/loc/lochome.php.