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Healthy Great Lakes Trout
Contact: Mike Donofrio (906) 524-5757
EA98-57 Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Fish Hatchery Manager
Dale Bast (715) 372-8510 Iron River National Fish Hatchery
Manager US Fish and Wildlife Service
COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT LEADS TO HEALTHY GREAT LAKES' TROUT
Lake trout fingerlings being reared as part of a hatchery isolation program at
the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (Community) Hatchery near L'Anse, Michigan,
were declared "disease-free" and given a clean bill of health after a recent
health inspection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
According to Community Hatchery Manager Mike Donofrio, results from the recent
inspection -- the first of three scheduled health inspections -- is proof that
healthy lake trout do exist in Lake Superior and that their offspring can be
raised successfully at the Community's hatchery.
Tribal staff have been nurturing three strains of lake trout since last fall
when eggs were collected and fertilized at three Lake Superior reefs (Klondike
Reef, north of Grand Marais, Michigan, Traverse Island Reef in Keweenaw Bay and
Gull Island Shoal in the Apostle Islands, Wisconsin).
The fingerlings, now four-inches long, will continue growing at about one-half
to three-quarters of an inch each month. If the fish remain healthy, they will
be transferred as 10-inch fish to a Service hatchery in June 1999.
"These young fish will become the brood stock for the next generation of Lake
trout," explained Iron River National Fish Hatchery Manager Dale Bast. "Their
offspring will be stocked back into parts of the Great Lakes where wild fish
aren't reproducing in sufficient numbers. Along with Sea Lamprey control and
habitat restoration, periodic stocking of lake trout is critical toward
restoring wild lake trout populations in Lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan."
The fish health inspection was performed by Becky Lasee, a biologist with the
Service's Fish Health Center in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. The inspection involved
collecting 60 fish from each strain and testing each for bacterial and viral
diseases. "The fingerlings appeared very healthy, with good fat reserves," Lasee
said. The fingerlings' next health inspection will be in September.
The fish-rearing project is part of a two-year cooperative agreement between the
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The
agreement calls for the Community to isolate and raise three strains of Lake
trout for use as future brood stock. In exchange, the Service will provide
yearling Lake and Brook Trout from its hatcheries to Keweenaw Bay and the
Community's reservation waters.
"As fulfillment for the first year of our agreement, the Service planted 106,000
eight-inch yearling lake trout into Keweenaw Bay in April," Donofrio explained.
"The Service's Genoa Hatchery will also plant 7,000 seven- to eight-inch brook
trout into streams and inland lakes chosen by the Community for recreation
fisheries. Two-thirds of the brook trout have already been planted with the
remaining third scheduled for planting in August."
Members of the media and public are invited to view and photograph the fish by
contacting Mike Donofrio at (906) 524-5757.
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