- 30,000 to under 1,000 in one spawning location - The Eastern Georgian Bay Stewardship Council's Walleye Woes indicates that spawning runs in the Moon River of Georgian Bay used to number around 30,000 fish annually - these days the numbers have been reduced to several hundred.
- Abundant to threatened - The Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve notes that Lake Sturgeon used to be prevalent before European settlement in the mid to late 1800’s, and now they are officially "threatened", and in fact are non-existent in some of the tributaries and water where they had spawned.
Help is on the way…
Walleye, Lake Sturgeon and Sucker species utilize similar spawning areas and many Georgian Bay stocks move upstream into tributaries to spawn in the spring. Stocks have been stressed or severely stressed in many Eastern Georgian Bay tributaries, particularly Walleye. Tributaries provide important spawning habitat for Walleye, Lake Sturgeon and Sucker species and, depending on the system, important refuge and feeding habitat for juveniles. Land use changes, Georgian Bay water level fluctuations and changes in upstream flows can impact these important areas for fish habitat.
Blackstone River Spawning Area Photo Credit: Eastern Georgian Bay Stewardship Council (EGBSC)
8 tributaries will be evaluated on whether they provide suitable spawning, nursery, rearing, and foraging environments.
1. Seguin River
2. Shebeshekong River
3. Shawanaga River
4. Magnetawan River
5. Key River
6. Pickerel River
7. Sucker’s Creek
8. Naiscoot River
A collaborative working group is lending their expertise to help evaluate the data and to identify and prioritize sites for restoration and assist with project communications. Led by the Eastern Georgian Bay Stewardship Council (EGBSC) , the group also includes Georgian Bay Forever, Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Upper Great Lakes Management Unit.
Fall 2017 – Complete one restoration project
Dec 2017/Jan or Feb/2017 – EGBSC Host workshop to share findings
End date – March 31, 2018
In addition to the assessments of the 8 tributaries, near the end of the project, one spawning bed restoration project will be designed and completed. A workshop will be held to share project findings, open to all community members to attend. Volunteers and community members will be involved with field work when possible. The report will be shared with all project partners and other interested agencies, municipalities, First Nations and organizations. Habitat information gathered in this project will be integrated into the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve’s State of the Bay Report (2018) and the Upper Great Lakes Management Unit’s Lake Huron Walleye Management Plan.
Shebeshekong - aerial photos to help identify potential fish habitat Photo Credit: Eastern Georgian Bay Stewardship Council (EGBSC)
Field Work Activities
Photographing spawning substratePhoto Credit: Eastern Georgian Bay Stewardship Council (EGBSC)
Georgian Bay - Shebeshekong River MeasurementsPhoto Credit: Eastern Georgian Bay Stewardship Council (EGBSC)