Multi-Sectoral Musky Tracking Program for a Trophy Fishery in Southeastern Georgian Bay: Adapting to Habitat Loss

Tuesday, September 10, 2013: 11:00 AM
White Oak (The Marriott Little Rock)
Dan Weller , Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
John Paul Leblanc , Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Michael McKie , President, Georgian Bay Musky Association, Kitchener, ON, Canada
Arunas Liskauskas , Management Biologist, Upper Great Lakes Management Unit, Lake Huron Office, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Owen Sound, ON, Canada
Patricia Chow-Fraser , Director, Life Sciences Program & Professor of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
The muskellunge population in southeastern Georgian Bay is experiencing unprecedented changes from a decade of sustained low water levels and extensive habitat alteration from human activities.  These stressors have been implicated in our failure to find muskellunge young-of-the-year in 2012 at historic nursery sites.  To investigate the response of the fishery to changing environmental conditions, a tracking program of mature muskellunge was initiated to identify novel spawning habitat and to gauge movement behaviors.  The tracking program is a collaboration between the Georgian Bay Musky Association (GBMA), the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (ONMR), and McMaster University (MAC).  In 2012, 7 muskellunge were tagged and tracked by MAC researchers but tracking proved difficult due the vast area and limited tracking time.  To improve the efficacy of the program for the 2013 season, targeted trap-netting and tagging by the OMNR and MAC will add 10-15 muskellunge to the tagged population, and the GBMA will conduct an increased tracking effort. We believe that only a multi-sectoral partnership such as the one proposed in which fishers are actively participating in the tracking, can be effective in monitoring the movement of muskellunge in an expansive and open system such as Georgian Bay.