On behalf of fisheries management agencies in the Great Lakes, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (Commission) supports the proposed recovery strategy of the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to protect and recover shortnose cisco in Ontario. Although shortnose cisco have not been collected in anywhere in the Great Lakes since 1985, they were once an important component of the deepwater coregonine fish communities in Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Ontario and supported fisheries in at least one of these lakes. Their apparent extirpation for over three decades is an ominous indication of permanent extinction. Nonetheless, a priority of Great Lakes fisheries managers is to rehabilitate or restore deepwater coregonine communities, building off considerable research to improve knowledge of taxonomy and diversity of cisco stocks, distribution and behavior of extant populations, impediments to recovery, and propagation techniques to implement stocking programs where they can be effective. Their priority is consistent with the Ontario government’s recovery goal to increase knowledge about the cisco complex and to mitigate threats to the shortnose cisco and their habitats if populations are found. The proposed (8) government-led actions of the recovery strategy are also consistent with the interests of Great Lakes fisheries management agencies. The proposed action to “Collaborate with federal partners, such as Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and partners in other jurisdictions to implement fisheries monitoring programs and research, with consideration of Shortnose Cisco and other co-occurring deepwater cisco species” is of particular interest. We suggest that this action could be further bolstered by specifically recognizing the time-tested commitment to cooperative management (including monitoring and research programs) among all provincial (OMNRF), state, tribal, and federal (including Fisheries and Oceans Canada) fisheries agencies under A Joint Strategic Plan for the Management of Great Lakes Fisheries (available at http://www.glfc.org/pubs/misc/jsp97.pdf). These agencies have worked together since the 1960s through established lake committees for every Great Lake and, collectively across lakes, through a Council of Lake Committees (CLC). The Great Lakes Fishery Commission strongly encourages recognition, consultation, and communication with lake committees and the CLC for matters involving Great Lakes fish communities or fisheries, and particularly through OMNRF as Ontario’s representing agency in these groups.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed recovery strategy.
John M. Dettmers
Fishery Management Program Director
Submitted June 27, 2019 12:34 PM