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Recovery Strategy for the Aurora Trout in Canada [Proposed]

Appendix A: Record Of Cooperation And Consultation

OMNR has led the management and recovery of aurora trout for nearly 50 years.  Over this time there have been a number of consultation opportunities where the public, other stakeholders and First Nations have had an opportunity to become involved with the management of aurora trout. 

Early consultation initiatives conducted in the mid-1980s through OMNR District Fisheries Management Plans and with provincial interest groups helped to form the basis of the first aurora trout Management Plan in 1983.  Consultation and information dissemination on recovery efforts for acid-stressed habitats, including the native aurora trout lakes, was carried out in the mid- to late-1990s as part of a much broader land use planning initiative entitled the Temagami Land Use Plan (OMNR 1996) which was completed by the OMNR North Bay District (Temagami Area).  Presentations were made to a number of audiences at the time, including the general public and the Comprehensive Planning Council (which included representatives from provincial, regional and local stakeholder organizations), regarding the ongoing recovery efforts surrounding aurora trout.

Over the past 20 years, when aurora trout have been introduced to new waters, Class Environmental Assessments have been completed.  At the time of an introduction, the OMNR district office would also have to close the selected lake to angling, except for the short aurora trout season that would occur once every three years.  Through consultation and in receiving public comments there were never any serious concerns expressed about stocking the lakes or closing them to angling.  This is likely because all of the aurora trout lakes are small lakes that do not support any other sport fish species. 

OMNR staff have presented information about aurora trout at numerous local fish and game club meetings over the years.  As well, OMNR district offices have received numerous calls from the public (and from First Nation band members) regarding aurora trout.  District staff on the ATRT have characterized these past conversations as almost exclusively positive or neutral in nature.  Often people are just asking the district offices for information about aurora trout.  The most frequent inquiries are related to the put-grow-and-take lakes.  Anglers contact OMNR to ask which lakes are open in any given year and to inquire about season dates.

As well, a brochure on the biology, history and past recovery efforts was prepared in 1995 and was available to the public through various OMNR and Ontario Parks offices.  This brochure is now out of date and should be updated (as identified in Table 2) in cooperation between the ATRT and Ontario Parks.

Consultation efforts have continued over the past few years as this Recovery Strategy was developed.  In the summer of 2004 the strategy author was interviewed twice by CBC radio affiliates in Thunder Bay and Sudbury, Ontario.  Both interviews were primarily about the ongoing recovery efforts (although the 2004 closure of the angling lakes was briefly discussed) and were positive in nature.  Subsequently, affected OMNR district staff contacted their local fish and game clubs to inform them that the aurora trout fishery would be closed while the Recovery Plan was prepared.  Although some individuals did react negatively to the closure, many simply wanted to know when the lakes would be open to angling again.  As the August 1, 2004 opening date approached, OMNR provided a central news release that was distributed to local media outlets in the vicinity of the lakes that were to be closed and signage was erected at the lakes.

Presentations on aurora trout and the recovery plan have been made to a number of audiences.  For example, the management and recovery of aurora trout was presented to the Hills Lake Fish Culture Station Clients’ Meeting in April 2005.  Similar information was presented to an Ontario Nature meeting in North Bay in June 2005 and aspects of the aurora trout research have been presented to the scientific community in the past.  As mentioned above, presentations on the recovery of the native aurora trout lakes were delivered as part of the Temagami Land Use Planning process.

Further public consultation is planned through the federal Species at Risk Act Registry posting, as well as the direct solicitation of comments from selected provincial and regional organizations (e.g. OFAH, the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters, Ontario Nature, World Wildlife Fund Canada).  Once received, these comments will be considered by the Recovery Team and revisions to the Recovery Strategy will be made accordingly.  Additional consultation is anticipated through the management planning process for Lady Evelyn Smoothwater Provincial Park which is now underway.

First Nation communities have also been consulted on the ongoing management and recovery of aurora trout.  Communities have been invited to consult through the various land use planning exercises in the past (e.g. the Temagami Land Use Plan in the early- to mid-1990s, the various Environmental Assessments that have been completed for the introduction of aurora trout, etc.).  Although it is evident that community members are aware of the management and recovery initiatives that have taken place over the years, there has been very little interest shown by the communities regarding involvement in the recovery process.  Various OMNR district offices have received questions and comments from individual First Nation community members, but have not received official comments or inquiries from any community as a whole.  Generally, the comments and questions received are from individuals that are only looking for information on aurora trout.  Again, district staff have characterized the inquiries as being positive or neutral.

The two native aurora trout lakes may be located within a land claim that is currently being negotiated with Temagami First Nation.  Negotiations regarding this land claim have been ongoing for some time now.  Through discussions to date, no interest has been expressed in the management of aurora trout or related to the two native lakes.  Staff have indicated that they do not believe this is particularly surprising given the small size and remote location of the two native lakes.  To the best of OMNR’s knowledge, aurora trout do not have any special spiritual or sustenance value to First Nation communities. 

Additional opportunities for information exchange, comments and consultation will be afforded as the land claim negotiations continue.  Based on the current state of the negotiations, it seems unlikely that the native aurora trout lakes will be included in the land claim settlement. 

Contacts, via phone, were made with First Nations which were located within a geographic proximity to the aurora trout observed natural habitat and stocked lake areas. These communities included Ginoogaming, Long Lake, Pic River.Abitibi – Wahgoshig, Timiskaming, Matachewan, Mattagami, Wahnapitae, and Temagami. Meetings were held with four of them. The general impression is that there is limited interest in these Aboriginal communities for the species, probably because it is nearly indistinguishable from the local Brook Trout. As well, all First Nation communities and members will have additional opportunities to comment through the Species At Risk Act Registry posting and the development of the management plan for Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park.

Overall, the comments received from both the public and First Nations to date can be characterized as being either positive or neutral in tone.  Generally the questions received by OMNR are related to when the angling season is open and what lakes will be open for angling.  Both the public and First Nations communities seem to agree that the recovery of aurora trout from near extinction is a good news story.

Previous drafts of this Recovery Strategy have been reviewed by DFO, OMNR (including Ontario Parks and the Aquatic Research and Development Section), EC and the RENEW – Secretariat.  In addition, the strategy has been reviewed and commented on by an anonymous peer reviewer.  Comments from the various agencies and reviewers have been incorporated into this draft of the strategy.

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