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Recovery Strategy for the Lake Chubsucker

2. Recovery

The following goals, objectives and recovery approaches were adapted from the Essex-Erie Recovery Strategy (EERT 2007) which covers a substantial portion of the Canadian range of the lake chubsucker.  Additional considerations were included from the Ausable River Recovery Strategy (ARRT 2005) and Thames River Recovery Strategy (TRRT 2005).

2.1 Recovery Feasibility

The recovery of the lake chubsucker is considered to be both biologically and technically feasible.  The following feasibility criteria [1] have been met for the species:

  1.  Are individuals capable of reproduction currently available to improve the population growth or population abundance?
  2. Yes. Reproducing populations currently exist within the Canadian range of the species (ex. OAC, Point Pelee National Park and Long Point Bay) which could be used for translocations or artificial propagation if necessary.

  3. Is sufficient habitat available to support the species or could it be made available through habitat management or restoration?
  4. Yes.  Suitable habitat is present at several locations with extant populations.  At locations with extirpated or declining populations, suitable habitat may be made available through restoration actions.

  5. Can significant threats to the species or its habitats be avoided or mitigated through recovery actions?
  6. Yes.  Significant threats such as sedimentation, increased levels of turbidity and loss of wetland habitat can be mitigated through established restoration methods.

  7. Do the necessary recovery techniques exist and are they demonstrated to be effective?
  8. Yes. Techniques to reduce identified threats (ex, BMPs to reduce sedimentation) and restore wetland habitats are well known and proven to be effective. 

The effort expended to achieve recovery will not be uniform across all populations. Locations with extirpated populations (Jeanette’s Creek and Tee Creek) may require substantial effort to improve habitat as well as reintroductions.  In such cases, the recovery team endorses a reintroduction approach as outlined below (modified from EERT 2007).

Reintroduction Approach

Reintroduction efforts to re-establish viable populations of the lake chubsucker need to consider the following:

  1. Prior to developing reintroduction plans, it is necessary to confirm through intensive sampling that they are no longer present.
  2. The success of reintroductions will depend on an understanding of the species’ habitat needs and on a sufficient quantity of suitable habitat being available at the repatriation site. Surveys need to be undertaken to characterize current habitat conditions and identify appropriate actions to improve degraded habitats. If habitat requirements are poorly understood, then studies of habitat use will need to be undertaken. 
  3. Reintroductions should not be considered until the factors for extirpation are understood and addressed.
  4. Source populations to support reintroductions need to be identified. Ideally, source populations possess a high level of genetic diversity and genetic composition developed under similar historic conditions as the repatriation site.  Where possible, source populations within the same watershed are preferred. 
  5. Removal of individuals from source populations should not negatively affect the status of these populations.
  6. The preferred method of introduction (e.g. adult transfer versus captive-reared) needs to be determined.  If captive-rearing is the preferred option, propagation and rearing methods and an appropriate rearing facility will need to be identified. 
  7. To successfully establish self-sustaining populations and preserve the genetic composition, the number of individuals to be introduced, appropriate life-stages and the frequency and duration of supplemental stockings needs to be determined.
  8. Monitoring is required to ensure that newly established populations are viable, that the stocking rate is appropriate and habitat conditions remain suitable.
  9. All proposed reintroductions associated with this strategy will involve the preparation of a reintroduction plan that will address the logistic and ecological aspects discussed above, as well as stakeholder issues.
  10. Reintroductions should follow the American Fisheries Society Guidelines for Introductions of Threatened and Endangered Fishes.  Website:http://www.fisheries.org/html/resource/page17.shtml

2.2 Recovery Goal

The long term recovery goal (>20 years) is to maintain existing distributions and densities of the lake chubsucker and restore viable populations to formerly occupied wetland habitats.

2.3 Population and Distribution Objective(s)

Over the next five year period, maintain current densities and abundance of known extant populations in the Old Ausable Channel, Lake St. Clair (Walpole Island and St. Clair NWA), Lake Erie (Point Pelee, Rondeau Bay, Long Point Bay) and the upper Niagara River (Lyons Creek).  More quantifiable objectives relating to individual populations are not possible at this time, but will be developed once the necessary sampling and studies have been completed.  Such knowledge gaps will be addressed by recovery actions given ‘urgent’ priority included in the recovery planning approaches.

2.4 Recovery Objectives

The following recovery objectives will be addressed over a 5-10 year period:

  1. Determine the extent, abundance and population demographics of existing populations through a focused sampling program.
  2. Identify key habitat requirements to define critical habitat and implement strategies to protect known occupied and recovery habitats.
  3. Establish a long-term population and habitat monitoring program.
  4. Identify threats, evaluate their relative impacts, and implement remedial actions to reduce their effects, where feasible.
  5. Investigate the feasibility of re-introduction for populations that may be extirpated or reduced.
  6. Coordinate recovery efforts with aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem recovery teams and other relevant or complimentary groups/ initiatives.
  7. Increase awareness of the lake chubsucker and the role of healthy aquatic ecosystems, and their importance to humans.

2.5 Approaches Recommended to Meet Recovery Objectives

2.5.1 Recovery planning

The overall strategies/approaches recommended to meet the recovery objectives have been organized into three categories represented by the following tables: Research and Monitoring; Management and Coordination; Stewardship, Outreach and Awareness.  Each table presents specific steps with a ranking of priority (urgent, necessary, beneficial), a link to the recovery objectives, a listing of the broad approach/strategy, a description of the threat addressed, and suggested outcomes or deliverables to measure progress. A narrative following each table is included when further explanation of specific approaches/strategies is warranted.  Implementation of the following approaches will be accomplished in coordination with relevant ecosystem-based recovery teams and associated implementation groups.

Table 5. Recovery planning table – research and monitoring

PriorityObjective  AddressedThreats AddressedBroad Strategy to Address ThreatsRecommended Approaches to Meet Recovery ObjectivesOutcomes or Deliverables (Identify Measurable Targets)
UrgentI, VIN/A1. Background SurveysConduct targeted surveys of preferred habitats in tributaries of Big Creek (Long Point region), Jeanette’s Creek and Tee Creek to determine the status of these populations.Will determine the presence/absence of populations at these locations.
UrgentI, VIN/A2. Background Surveys (extant occurrences)Complete targeted surveys of extant populations.Will determine health, range, abundance, and population demographics and contribute to the identification of critical habitat.
UrgentI, VIN/A3. Background Surveys (new occurrences)Conduct targeted surveys for undetected populations in high probability areas with suitable habitat.  Areas to target would include L Lake (near the OAC) and tributaries of the upper Niagara River.May detect new occurrences of lake chubsucker.
UrgentIIIN/A4. Monitoring-Populations & HabitatDevelop and implement a standardized index population monitoring program and habitat monitoring program with a specific sampling and training protocol.Will enable assessments of changes in range, population abundance and distribution, key demographic characters and changes in habitat features, extent and health.
UrgentIIN/A5. Research - Habitat RequirementsDetermine the seasonal habitat needs of all life stages of the lake chubsucker (in situ/ ex situ studies, analytical research). Will allow for the identification of critical habitat for lake chubsucker, as per SARA. Will assist with the development of a habitat model.
UrgentIIHabitat Destruction/ Fragmentation6. Habitat ManagementEnsure planning and management agencies are aware of habitats that are important to lake chubsucker.Protection of important lake chubsucker habitat from industrial and development activities.
NecessaryIVExotic species7. Threat Evaluation – Exotic Species Evaluate the impacts of exotic species (including common carp and exotic plant species) on the lake chubsucker and its habitat.Will help evaluate the severity of threat posed by the common carp in preferred wetland habitats.
NecessaryIVAll8. Threat Evaluation & MitigationInvestigate and evaluate the significance of threat factors that may be impacting extant populations.  Take steps to mitigate immediate threats identified.Will determine the severity of specific threats to individual populations and alleviate their impacts.
BeneficialIVExotic species (e.g. common carp)9. Exotics-Monitoring Monitor watersheds for exotics of concern in cooperation with aquatic ecosystem recovery teams.Will monitor the advancement/ establishment of exotic species and provide early opportunities to mitigate this threat.
NecessaryII, IVN/A10. Research - Controlled Water Levels & Wetland DynamicsInvestigate impacts of regulated water levels (i.e. dyked wetlands) vs. natural wetlands (undyked) on habitat conditions for lake chubsucker. Extreme events (floods and droughts) are important features of healthy wetlands.Will determine the impact of controlled water levels on the species and its habitat. Will assist with restoring/ maintaining ecological processes.
NecessaryI, IV, VISediment & Nutrient Loads/ Contaminants11. Water Quality MonitoringMeasure sediment and nutrient loads emitted from streams.Will determine priority areas for restoration/ stewardship.
BeneficialVN/A12. Collaboration & Information SharingCollaboration with relevant groups, initiatives and recovery teams to address recovery actions of benefit to the lake chubsucker. Will combine efficiencies in addressing common recovery actions, and ensure information is disseminated in a timely, cooperative fashion.

1-3. Background Surveys: Focused efforts are required to determine the lake chubsucker’s current distribution throughout known watersheds of historic and extant occurrence as well as directed searches to detect new populations in high probability locations.  This survey work will be facilitated through a coordinated effort amongst the ecosystem recovery teams responsible for the species.  Concerted effort should be directed to historical occurrences within the tributaries of Big Creek, Rondeau Bay and nearshore areas in Long Point Bay and Niagara River tributaries (particularly Lyons/Tee Creek).  Additional suitable habitats may be located within old oxbows of the lower Ausable River (such as L Lake) in the vicinity of the OAC as well as tributaries of the upper Niagara River.  Sampling methods should be standardized at all sampling sites and include a relevant assessment of habitat.  Previous work within the OAC suggests that boat seining and boat electro-fishing methods worked best for capturing lake chubsucker in such habitats (DFO unpublished data).

4. Monitoring Populations and Habitat:The monitoring program should be designed to allow for:

  • Quantitative tracking of changes in population abundance and demographics.
  • Analyses of habitat use and availability and changes in these parameters over time.
  • The ability to detect the presence of exotic species such as common carp.

The fish monitoring protocol that is developed should have regard for the methodologies used in background survey work (see above) and provide guidance on time of sampling and define the types of biological samples that should be collected (e.g. fin rays, length, weight, etc).

9. Exotics – Monitoring:Common carp densities in the OAC are currently low.  Density and abundance of this exotic requires monitoring to ensure this threat level is not elevated (ARRT 2005).  Carp captured during monitoring initiatives should be removed and released elsewhere.  The possible pathway of carp (and other exotics) entering the upper OAC through back flow conditions due to spring ice damming should be investigated.

Table 6. Recovery planning table – management and coordination

PriorityObjective  AddressedThreats AddressedBroad Strategy to Address ThreatsRecommended Approaches to Meet Recovery ObjectivesOutcomes or Deliverables (Identify Measurable Targets)
UrgentVIN/A1. Coordination with Other Recovery TeamsWork with relevant ecosystem- and single- species recovery teams to share knowledge, implement recovery actions and to obtain incidental sightings.Will combine efficiencies, resources, ensure information dissemination, help prioritize most urgent actions across the species’ range, and allow for a coordinated approach to recovery.
UrgentVI, VIIHabitat loss2. Municipal Planning – InvolvementEncourage municipalities to protect habitats that are important to the lake chubsucker in their Official Plans.Will assist with the recovery of the lake chubsucker and the amelioration of the water quality of watersheds it inhabits.
NecessaryVI, VIISediment loading & turbidity, channelization/ altered flow3. Relationship Building – DrainageEstablish good working relationships with drainage supervisors, engineers and contractors to limit the effects of drainage activities on this species.Will increase the knowledge and understanding of fish habitat needs and may lead to fewer and/or less harmful alterations.
NecessaryIV, VIAll4. Assessment of Watershed-scale StressorsIn cooperation with relevant ecosystem recovery teams, address watershed-scale stressors to populations and their habitat.Will identify multiple stressors that may affect lake chubsucker populations.
BeneficialIV, VIExotic species5. Exotic Species Management PlanDevelopment of a management plan that addresses potential risks, impacts, and proposed actions (including feasibility of control) in response to the arrival or establishment of exotics such as common carp (OAC).  Appropriate regulatory approvals will be acquired.Will ensure a timely response should this threat more fully materialize. Will assist with addressing key threats to this population.
Beneficial  Non-indigenous species Introductions6. Prohibitions – BaitfishesEvaluate the feasibility of prohibitions on the use of live baitfishes within the OAC (both inside and outside of the Pinery Provincial Park) Will help prevent the establishment of exotics in the OAC.

1. Coordination with other recovery teams: Many of the threats facing the lake chubsucker are a result of habitat alteration and degradation.  Multi-species/ ecosystem recovery strategies (Ausable River, Thames River and Essex-Erie region) have incorporated the biological and ecological requirements of this species into relevant watershed-based recovery approaches as well as species-specific approaches.  There will be opportunities for these teams to share resources, develop and adopt similar approaches and combine efficiencies through a coordinated approach.  The recovery team will coordinate a science-based threat ranking of all lake chubsucker populations to provide guidance for the prioritization of approaches to ecosystem teams.

Table 7. Recovery planning table – stewardship, outreach and awareness

PriorityObjective  AddressedThreats AddressedBroad Strategy to Address ThreatsRecommended Approaches to Meet Recovery ObjectivesOutcomes or Deliverables (Identify Measurable Targets)
UrgentVIN/A1. Collaboration & Information SharingCollaboration with relevant groups, initiatives and recovery teams to address recovery actions of benefit to the lake chubsucker. Will combine efficiencies in addressing common recovery actions, and ensure information is disseminated in a timely, cooperative fashion.
UrgentIV, VIIN/A2. Stewardship and Habitat InitiativesPromote stewardship among landowners abutting aquatic habitats of lake chubsucker and other local residents. For significant habitat improvements to be made, basin wide efforts will be necessary.Will raise community support and awareness of recovery initiatives. Will raise profile of lake chubsucker and improve awareness of  opportunities to improve water quality and species habitat.
UrgentIV, VIIHabitat degradation3. Stewardship - Implementation of BMPsWork with landowners to implement BMPs. Encourage the completion of environmental farm management plans (EFPs) and Nutrient Management Plans (NMPs).Will minimize threats from soil erosion, stream sedimentation, and nutrient and chemical contamination.
NecessaryVIIN/A4. Communications StrategyDevelop a communications strategy that identifies partners, approaches, information products, educational and outreach opportunities, stewardship resources and specific BMPs that will assist with the recovery of this species.Will provide a strategic basis for improving public awareness of species at risk and promote ways in which community and public involvement can be most effectively solicited for the recovery of this species.
NecessaryVIN/A5. Stewardship - Financial
Assistance/ Incentives
Facilitate access to funding sources for landowner and local community groups engaged in stewardship activities.Will facilitate the implementation of recovery efforts, BMPs associated with water quality improvements, sediment load reduction, etc.
NecessaryVIIN/A6. Awareness - Addressing Landowner ConcernsProvide clear communications addressing financial compensation opportunities and landowner concerns and responsibilities under SARA.Will address landowner concerns surrounding the lake chubsucker and facilitate public interest and involvement in stewardship initiatives.
BeneficialVIIIncidental Harvest7. Awareness – Incidental HarvestProvide a lake chubsucker information package to commercial fishers (including bait fishers). Request avoidance of occupied habitats, and the release and reporting of lake chubsuckers captured.Reduce number of lake chubsuckers lost to incidental harvest and build upon monitoring efforts of this species.
BeneficialVIIExotic species/ baitfish8. Exotic Species/ Bait Fish IntroductionsIncrease public awareness of the impacts of exotic species on the natural ecosystem and develop an exotic species reporting system.  Angers should be discouraged from emptying the contents of their bait buckets in local waters.Will reduce the transport and release of exotics (including bait fish) and prevent their establishment in areas of lake chubsucker habitat.

2. Stewardship and Habitat Initiatives:Large-scale efforts to improve the habitat quality of areas currently (and historically) occupied by lake chubsucker will be required at some locations.  It will be necessary to engage land owners, local communities and stewardship councils in the issues of lake chubsucker recovery, ecosystem and environmental health, clean water protection, nutrient management, best management practices (BMPs), stewardship projects and associated financial incentive programs.  Towards this end, the recovery team will work closely with the 3 ecosystem-based recovery teams, all of which have established stewardship programs that will benefit this species.

3. Implementation of BMPs: The implementation of BMPs will be largely facilitated through established stewardship programs of existing ecosystem-based recovery teams.  Additional stewardship programs will be directed as necessary to areas outside the boundaries of ecosystem-based programs.  BMPs implemented will include those relating to: the establishment of riparian buffers, soil conservation, herd management, nutrient and manure management, and tile drainage.  Establishing riparian buffers reduces nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) and sediment inputs to receiving waters and overland run-off. Restriction of livestock from watercourses leads to reductions in erosion and sediment and nutrient loadings. Nutrient and manure management will reduce nitrogen and phosphorus inputs into adjacent water bodies, thereby improving water quality.  Low-till practices can reduce soil erosion and improve soil structure while reducing the sediment loads of adjacent watercourses.  Environmental Farm Plans (EFPs) prioritize BMP implementation at the level of individual farms and are often a pre-requisite for funding programs. For more information on BMPs see: Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Best Management Practices Series:  http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/environment/bmp/series.htm.

4. Communications Strategy: The communications strategy will cover various topics, including, but not limited to, those outlined in the specific steps column.  Target audiences should include the general public, local public and private landowners, stewardship groups, municipalities, drainage superintendents and industry.  Public support and participation will be encouraged through the distribution of various educational materials and the provision of stewardship resources and contacts.  The strategy will acknowledge and build on the work of the OAC Management Committee which is currently addressing awareness concerns related to the lake chubsucker through various means.

7. Awareness – Incidental Harvest:The lake chubsucker is not a legal baitfish in Ontario.  It is unlikely this species was ever targeted by the baitfish industry due to its size and rarity.  However, in some areas of its range it has been susceptible to incidental catches from commercial seining (Becker 1983).  An information package will be developed and distributed with bait fish licenses in areas occupied by the lake chubsucker.  The information package will include a description and illustration of the species, a map of known areas of occupation, a description of preferred habitats, and a reporting form.  Bait harvesters will be asked to avoid areas of known occurrence and to report areas of incidental captures.

2.6 Performance Measures

The success of implementing the recommended recovery approaches will be evaluated primarily through routine population (distribution and abundance) and habitat (quality and quantity) surveys and monitoring.  During the next five years, quantifiable targets will be established for the lake chubsucker.  The recovery strategy will be reviewed in five years to evaluate progress made toward short-term and long-term targets, and the current goals and objectives will be reviewed within an adaptive management planning framework with input from the various ecosystem recovery teams.

Performance measures to evaluate recovery progress include:

  • Progress made toward achieving long-term goals and short-term objectives.
  • Review of goals, objectives, strategic approaches, and the success of implemented activities as new information is attained.
  • Completion of activities outlined in the Schedule of Studies for the determination of critical habitat within the proposed timelines.
  • Designation of critical habitat in a recovery strategy or action plan.
  • Degree of protection/ restoration achieved for known habitats of the lake chubsucker (e.g. number of habitat patches/ populations enhanced).
  • Knowledge gaps addressed and understanding of lake chubsucker ecology advanced.
  • Number of high priority sites enhanced/ protected by stewardship actions.
  • Documentation of public and agency participation/ support for recovery actions identified in the recovery strategy (including in-kind and contributed financial resources).

2.7 Critical Habitat

2.7.1 Identification of the species’ critical habitat

Although critical habitat cannot be identified at this time, currently occupied and historically occupied habitats are summarized below.  The recovery team recommends that currently occupied habitat be recognized as habitat in need of conservation for the lake chubsucker.

Currently Occupied Habitat:

AusableRiver (OAC): extant populations are located entirely in the dunes sub-basin within the Old Ausable Channel of the Ausable River watershed.  The Ausable River Recovery Team recommends that the entire OAC upstream of the low head dam (within the Pinery Provincial Park) to its end near Grand Bend be designated as critical habitat for the lake chubsucker (ARRT 2005).  This channel reach covers a distance of approximately 9.5 km, the majority (approximately 6.4 km) being located within the Park proper. The scientific analysis on which the Recovery Team based its recommendation will undergo a peer-review, which will then inform the ecosystem-based recovery strategy being developed for the Ausable River watershed. It should be further noted that the lake chubsucker was also detected in the reaches of the OAC downstream of the low head dam in 2004 by DFO.

Lake Erie: Occupied habitat includes Long Point Bay area (dyked marshes of Big Creek NWA and a pond located at the tip of Long Point), Point Pelee National Park interior marshes and Rondeau Bay costal wetlands.

Lake St. Clair: Occupied habitat includes the St. Clair NWA and the dyked marshes of Walpole Island.

Lyons Creek: Occupied habitat includes a 1.8 km stretch of clear water maintained by the clean overflow water of the Welland Canal (Mandrak et al. submitted).

Historically Occupied Habitat:

AusableRiver:The lake chubsucker is assumed to have inhabited the lower Ausable River prior to its diversion in the 1800s, but to what extent is not known (ARRT).  The lower Ausable River has since become degraded in habitat quality and the species is now confined to the high quality habitat protected by the closed system of the OAC.

Lake Erie: Lakechubsucker were recorded from tributaries in the upper reaches of Big Creek (Long Point Region), but have not been confirmed present in recent years.

ThamesRiver: Jeanette’s Creek, a tributary of the lower Thames River.

Tee Creek: A tributary of Lyons Creek, which is a tributary of the Niagara River.

2.7.2 Examples of activities likely to impact currently occupied habitat 

Habitats occupied by the lake chubsucker could be negatively impacted by a wide range of activities that ultimately increase siltation/ turbidity levels and/or result in the removal of dense aquatic vegetation.  High levels of siltation and turbidity limits sunlight penetration through the water, thereby limiting aquatic macrophyte growth.  Direct destruction of habitat results from habitat loss and fragmentation are caused by activities such as dredging and the construction of dams and impoundments.  Habitat deterioration through activities resulting in the elevation of nutrient, sediment, and toxic substance levels will also have negative impacts.  The main activities contributing to the deterioration of water quality and quantity include instream/ in water work without proper sedimentation control, cultivation of riparian areas, unfettered livestock access to rivers, channelization and drainage works, removal of riparian vegetation which serve as biological filters to contaminants/ sediment in runoff entering water bodies, aggregate extraction, input of toxic substances, and water taking.

2.7.3 Schedule of studies to identify critical habitat

The identification of critical habitats of Threatened and Endangered species (on Schedule 1) is a requirement of the Species at Risk Act (SARA).  Once identified, SARA includes provisions to protect critical habitat of these species.  Critical habitat is defined under section 2 of SARA as “the habitat necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species and that is identified as the species’ critical habitat in the recovery strategy or in an action plan for the species”.  The identification of critical habitat requires a thorough knowledge of the species’ habitat requirements during all life history stages as well as detailed knowledge of the distribution, quantity and quality of habitats across its range.  With the exception of the OAC (see below), this level of detail is not currently available for populations of the lake chubsucker.  As such, the following schedule of studies (table 8) outlines activities that will assist in obtaining the required information.  The activities listed are not exhaustive and it is likely that the process of investigating these actions will lead to the discovery of further knowledge gaps that need to be addressed.  Until critical habitat can be defined, the recovery team has identified areas listed as ‘currently occupied habitat’ as areas in need of conservation for the lake chubsucker.

Due to the significance of the OAC aquatic community, rigorous sampling of habitat and fishes has recently taken place.  The Ausable River Recovery Team (ARRT) is currently analyzing this data and has recommended that significant portions of the OAC be designated critical habitat for the lake chubsucker.  The Ontario Freshwater Fish Recovery Team is working with the ARRT to complete this designation within an expected timeframe of one year (Table 8).  This incremental approach to the identification of critical habitat will provide timely protection for one of the most significant populations remaining in Canada.

Table 8: Schedule of studies to identify critical habitat for the lake chubsucker.

Description of ActivityApproximate Time Frame1
Extensive review of known life history and ecological needs. Identification of associated habitat features with the expressed consideration that each population/ subpopulation must have access to all such habitats of adequate quality to remain viable.2007 -
Assist the ARRT in designating critical habitat within the OAC; designation to be published within the finalized Ausable River Recovery Strategy.2007 - 2008

Conduct background population and habitat surveys / monitoring to confirm:

  • presence, extent and demographics of extant populations
  • extent and quality of  suitable habitat (both occupied and non-occupied)
Map current and historically occupied areas, as well as areas that are suitable but uninhabited. Highlight areas of former occurrence that are restorable.2007 -
Assess existing habitat conditions (e.g. water quality and quantity, flow, substrate, vegetation, etc.) within the historic range of the lake chubsucker at all known sites.  Compare current conditions to species’ requirements to identify circumstances/ factors that led to habitat unsuitability/ deterioration at some sites. This exercise will reinforce the importance of a suite of habitat features that are critical to the species.2009-2011
Assess degree of connectivity of habitat patches/ populations of the lake chubsucker through physical surveys and genetic analyses.2009-2012
Based on information gathered, review population and distribution goals (i.e. survival vs. recovery) 2012
Determine amount and configuration of critical habitat required to achieve goal if adequate information exists. Validate model.2012

1 Timeframes are subject to change in response to demands on resources and/ or personnel, and as new priorities arise.

Activities identified in this schedule of studies will be further detailed in an action plan and carried out in collaboration with the appropriate ecosystem-based recovery teams and other relevant organizations, agencies, groups and individuals.  Note that many of the individual recovery approaches will address some of the information requirements listed above. 

2.8 Existing and Recommended Approaches to Habitat Protection

Habitats of the lake chubsucker receive general protection under the habitat provisions of the federal Fisheries Act.  The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) also considers the impacts of projects on all listed wildlife species and their critical habitat. During the CEAA review of a project, all adverse effects of the project on a listed species and its critical habitat must be identified.  If the project is carried out, measures must be taken that are consistent with applicable recovery strategies or action plans to avoid or lessen those effects (mitigation measures) and to monitor those effects.  Protection is also afforded under the Planning Act.  Planning authorities are required to be “consistent with” the provincial Policy Statement under Section 3 of Ontario’s Planning Act which prohibits development and site alteration in the habitat of Endangered and Threatened species.  The Ontario Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act prohibits the impoundment or diversion of a watercourse if siltation will result, and the voluntary Land Stewardship II program of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is designed to reduce erosion on agricultural lands.  Stream-side development in Ontario is managed through floodplain regulations enforced by local conservation authorities.  

A majority of the land adjacent to the rivers inhabited by the lake chubsucker is privately owned; however, the river-bottom is generally owned by the Crown.  In the Ausable River watershed, the majority of the OAC, where lake chubsuckers occur, is protected within the boundaries of the Pinery Provincial Park, conferring some degree of protection from development pressures and activities.  This is also the case with the population within Rondeau Provincial Park (which represents a portion of Rondeau Bay).  The Canada National Parks Act protects the species and its habitat located entirely within Point Pelee National Park.  Habitat within Big Creek, St. Clair, and Long Point NWAs is also afforded some level of protection.  Once defined, it will be prohibited to destroy the critical habitat of the lake chubsucker under SARA.

Recommended high priority habitats for stewardship include Rondeau Bay and Lyons/Tee Creek where declining populations may benefit most from efforts to improve habitat.  The recovery team will endeavor to more fully prioritize and direct efforts to improve and protect habitat as informed through the recommended approaches.

2.9 Effects on Other Species

The proposed recovery activities will benefit the environment in general and are expected to positively affect other sympatric native species.  Many of the stewardship and habitat improvement activities to benefit the lake chubsucker will be implemented through existing ecosystem-based recovery programs that have already taken into account the needs of other species at risk.  

2.10 Recommended Approach for Recovery Implementation

The recovery team recommends a dual approach to recovery implementation which combines an ecosystem-based approach complimented by a single-species focus.  The team will accomplish this by working closely with existing multi-species ecosystem recovery teams to combine efficiencies and share knowledge on recovery initiatives.  Currently, there are 3 multi-species, ecosystem-based recovery strategies (Ausable and Thames rivers and the Essex-Erie region) that address several populations of the lake chubsucker and are currently being implemented. These strategies incorporate the biological and ecological requirements of the lake chubsucker, address the local threats it faces (or would face if re-introduced, in the case of the Thames River strategy), and present prioritized strategies/ approaches for the species’ recovery within these systems.  Ecosystem strategies simultaneously employ basin-wide recovery approaches to reduce identified threats to multiple aquatic species at risk including the lake chubsucker.  Populations of the lake chubsucker also occur outside the boundaries of existing ecosystem-based recovery programs in the upper Niagara River drainage (Lyons/Tee Creek) and Lake St. Clair.  As such, a single species approach to recovery will facilitate implementation of recovery actions within these watersheds through partnerships with local watershed management and stewardship agencies.  If ecosystem-based recovery initiatives are developed in the future for these watersheds, the present single-species strategy will provide a strong foundation to build upon.

2.11 Statement on Action Plans

One or more action plans relating to this recovery strategy will be produced within five years of the final strategy being posted on the public registry.

[1]Draft Policy on the Feasibility of Recovery, Species at Risk Act Policy. January 2005.