M’Chigeeng First Nation and the Anishinabek/Ontario Resource Centre (A/OFRC) are engaging in a joint three week project completing lake surveys, and other work, on Lake Mindemoya and Otter Lake on Manitoulin Island. It commenced on July 13th/09.
The First Nation has had a long history of fishing the waters of these lakes and have concerns about their current health. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) has conducted a number of Fall Walleye Index Netting surveys to track the walleye population on Lake Mindemoya, which has remained stable as of 2005. There has not been any previous assessments done on Otter lake.
This joint assessment project between M’Chigeeng First Nation and the A/OFRC on the two lakes is designed in two parts. Firstly, on Lake Mindemoya it will provide information on the quality/quantity of spawning habitat and allow for tracking the spread of the recently introduced zebra mussel. If colonization is already extensive, it may account for the lack of fish being seen in traditional areas. This survey uses data collected from the Bathymetric Automated Survey System (BASS), shoreline development, shoreline vegetation, littoral zone substrate and vegetation. All pertinent information will be recorded and delineated. Zebra mussel colonies will also be identified and outlined to establish a baseline for comparison in future years.
Secondly, on Otter Lake, the First Nation is primarily concerned with a drop in the number of fish they are seeing during their annual harvest on this lake. The MNR has not conducted any previous work and indicate that it is stocked with splake. A lake survey here, will provide information on the fish community and fish habitat. Shoreline cruises will be conducted, mapping littoral and shoreline habitat. Critical fish habitat existing in water man-made structures and shoreline development will be recorded. The BASS will also be used on this lake to collect bathymetry for the production of a contour map. Minnow traps and gill nets will be used to sample the fish community.