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Wednesday, January 31 • 9:20am - 9:40am
FISH HABITAT & GENETICS: Developing a Science and Monitoring Strategy to Assess Recovery of Fisheries Habitats and Populations in the St. Clair-Detroit River System

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AUTHORS. Edward F. Roseman, USGS Great Lakes Science Center; James Boase, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Justin A. Chiotti, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Robin DeBruyne, University of Toledo; Richard Drouin, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry; Todd Wills, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT. The St. Clair-Detroit River System (SCDRS) contains the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit River connecting Lake Huron to Lake Erie in the densely populated Detroit/Windsor metropolitan areas. The waterway is a major navigational and recreational resource with over $80 billion in trade takes place annually. The SCDRS boasts world-class walleye, smallmouth bass, and muskellunge fisheries while also supporting imperiled fishes such as northern madtom and lake sturgeon. However, losses of fish habitat and other perturbations resulted in the designation of portions of the SCDRS as Great Lakes Areas of Concern with loss and degradation of fish habitat designated as a Beneficial Use Impairment. Efforts to remediate and delist this BUI have focused on restoring habitat for native fishes and overall aquatic ecosystem health. To date, many investigations have focused on site-specific effectiveness of restored habitats with only a few long-term aquatic community assessments. While these investigations have done well to provide site-specific validation of the success of individual restoration projects, they lack a credible long-term measure of fish population trajectory in response to habitat improvements. As part of a large collaborative initiative, we implemented a process to develop a scientific strategy for coordinated research and monitoring that incorporates a long-term vision for ecosystem recovery and to measure the response of the system to restoration and management actions. Our approach involved a series of planning workshops to create an inventory and database of assessment programs. We used viability analysis to determine the state of knowledge for the system, allowing prioritization of new research and assessment initiatives. Priority restoration and monitoring objectives were developed by consensus and are evaluated using a numerical scorecard system. Our approach capitalizes on the collective impact concept to measure progress and make efficient use of limited resources available for restoration programs.

Wednesday January 31, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am CST