Science and Conservation Report Four

Fish Culture – Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon

Samuel Wilmot who initiated fish culture in Canada, wrote in 1870: “A repetition of this process (planting artificially hatched salmon in streams emptying into Lake Ontario) for a few years, aided by judicious enactments for their preservation and protection, would undoubtedly soon replenish and restock the waters of Lake Ontario with salmon.”

Within a comparatively few years after this prediction, the salmon was extinct in Lake Ontario.  It is possible that if artificial propagation had never been discovered we would be further ahead than we are today in fish conservation, because then such complete dependence would not have been placed on hatcheries as the cure-all for the maintenance of fish populations.  It would probably have been learned much sooner that, unless natural conditions favorable for a species are maintained, a body of water cannot be made to produce it in numbers.

Hatcheries have a place in fisheries management, but it is not as large as was once believed.  A carefully considered opinion of the place of fish culture in fisheries management is contained in a fish policy adopted by the American Fisheries Society in 1954.  This is the organization through which those engaged in research or administration meet to consider problems in fisheries management.  Their pronouncement contained the following statements: “Periodic replanting is desirable of lakes that winterkill infrequently or of waters which are occasionally depleted by pollution; otherwise; the stocking of the young of any species in waters having adequate spawning conditions is considered of doubtful value.”

Harkness and Dymond (1961) Atlantic Salmon were extirpated from Lake Ontario by the late-1800’s, and functionally gone by the mid-1880’s.


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