35th Annual Meeting of the
Atlantic International Chapter of the American Fisheries Society
September 20-22, 2009
Town & Country Motor Inn
Shelburne, New Hampshire
Theme – “Watershed Processes”
2009 AIC Business Meeting Minutes
Town and Country Motor Inn
20 State Rte 2
1 (800) 325-4386
Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest
USDA Forest Service
RR1, Box 779
Campton, NH 03223
Session 1: Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture
Ben Nugent- EBTJV in New Hampshire
Affiliation: New Hampshire Fish and Game. [email protected]
It is believed that wild brook trout once occupied every watershed in New Hampshire. Increased stream temperatures, changes to water chemistry, habitat fragmentation, increased rates of predation and competition, loss of spawning locations, and the loss of stream habitat complexity have led to reduced and isolated populations of this popular species. Unfortunately, most information to explain the current distribution of this species is qualitative and anecdotal. In 2007, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department began to conduct surveys to quantify the current status of wild brook trout at the subwatershed (HUC12 scale) as part of the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture. It is anticipated that fish and habitat data collected on site will be used in conjunction with available GIS information to develop a model that identifies habitat that should or should not support populations of wild brook trout in areas not surveyed. This model will be used as guidance for restoration and protection efforts by local and regional conservation organizations. This presentation will also show how towns and watershed groups can use survey information as a tool to protect water quality.
Scott Craig– Overview of Past and Present EBTJV Projects in Maine
Affiliation: United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Maine Fishery Resources Office. [email protected]
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is a primary partner for the National Fish Habitat Action Plans, Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture (EBTJV) initiative. USFWS has allocated 1.45 million dollars for 41 EBTJV projects since 2006. Maine is the only state (13 participating) that has received funding for each of the four funding cycles (2006-2009). These six projects account for 15% of the number, and 12% of total funding. Pennsylvania has received the most funding in terms of both number of projects and overall project dollars received, but Maine ranks #2 for projects and #3 for project dollars. This presentation will highlight all six of Maine’s currently funded EBTJV projects, and it will provide information for those that would like to submit proposals before the October 2 deadline.
Jeff Stern– “Chop and Drop” to Improve Brook Trout Habitat in Western Maine Streams
Affiliation: Androscoggin River Watershed Council. [email protected]
Contributing Authors: Steve Coghlan, Jr.
The Androscoggin River Watershed Council leads a four-year experiment to improve brook trout habitat by adding large woody debris to streams. Dubbed “chop and drop” by project participants, the method involves cuttting trees at strategic spots along stream banks and felling into the channel. Depending on tree placement and location, large woody debris may act like a dam to trap debris and sediment contributed by nearby eroding roads, or may cause bottom scouring to create deep pools. Adding large woody dbris to streams mimics conditions thought to exist prior to modern land use practices, such as logging, that stripped streamside vegetation and created the tree-free streams we see today. In 2007, large woody debris was added to tributaries in the upper Sunday River Watershed in western Maine. This project, which is part of the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture to protect and improve brook trout habitat from Georgia to Maine, was expanded in 2008 when two new sites were treated with chop and drop in the Bear River Valley in Newry, Maine. All sites, which have been impacted by previous and ongoing land uses such as logging, road building and ATV use, are monitored annually for morphological changes, and response of brook trout, aquatic insects and streamside salamander populations. Stream flow is measured upstream and downstream of treated reaches to assess whether chop and drop attenuates variability in peak and low flows to encourage stable water level conditions favorable for brook trout. If successful, chop and drop may be used more widely throughout western Maine as a relatively low-cost technique to restore damaged streams and brook trout habitat. The project runs through 2010.
Merry Gallagher– A Large-Scale Assessment of Brook Trout (Salvelinus Fontinalis) Populations and Habitat in Maine
Affiliation: Maine Dept of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. [email protected]
Contributing Authors: Philip Wick, Forrest Bonney, Jeffrey Norment
MDIFW surveyed 1,990 stream sites in 435 6 level HUC subwatersheds in 2007 and 2008. Survey sites were selected a priori according to probability of access in remote areas and spatially distributed within subwatersheds to assure representation of mainstem, tributary and headwater habitats. Standard protocols were used at all sites to assess fish community, stream habitat, and geomorphic condition. All fish were accurately identified, counted and brook trout were weighed, measured with scale and fin clip samples collected. Brook trout were found inhabiting 61.5% of all sites surveyed (1224/1990). Our objectives include producing a series of GIS data files for guiding conservation efforts, fishery management actions and implementing Maines strategies for the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture (EBTJV). Data products include statewide datasets of likely brook trout habitat, subwatershed ranks for EBTJV priorities, and a preliminary stream condition index model for survey sites. Results are already directing conservation actions and habitat rehabilitation projects in Maine.
Session 2: Regional Brook Trout Projects
James MacCartney– New Hampshire’s Nash Stream Restoration Project
Affiliation: Trout Unlimited. [email protected]
Streams are unique linear, unidirectional ecosystems that experience periodic and dramatic changes in habitat and morphology. Mr. MacCartney will present a case study from Nash Stream in northern New Hampshire that describes human impacts to the ecosystem, and active restoration treatments that are being used to improve stream health and function. Nash Stream was impacted by historic logging practices, a catastrophic dam failure and associated flooding, and subsequent response to that flood. Jim will describe the more significant impacts, selection of treatments from a range of restoration options, ongoing restoration activities at Nash Stream, and what is planned for the future.
John Magee– The Use of Instream Wood by Brook Trout in the Nash Stream Watershed
Affiliation: New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. [email protected]
Contributing Authors: Ben Letcher
We investigated the habitat use of PIT tagged brook trout in three tributaries to Nash Stream in northern New Hampshire. We documented the locations and habitat characteristics of PIT tagged fish about twice monthly in Johnson Brook from May to November 2008 and May to September 2009, and monthly in Emerson and Slide Brooks from June to September 2009. Wild brook trout seemed to prefer pools, but were most often found in habitats associated with instream wood regardless of the habitat or substrate type or water depth. Trout were also found hiding within accumulations of leaves in the late fall. This ongoing work documents the use of instream wood by wild brook trout, and provides justification for the restoration and protection for the future recruitment of instream wood.
Dianne Timmins– Migration of Wild Brook Trout in Northern New Hampshire
Affiliation: New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. [email protected]
Self-sustaining wild brook trout populations may be found in many brooks throughout New Hampshire and Maine but few exceed a lifespan of 4 years, or attain lengths over 152-178mm. The Dead Diamond River and the Magalloway River are rare in that they produce wild brook trout in excess of 381mm. Annual electrofishing assessments confirmed a high level of brook trout under 225mm. This raised many questions. Where are the larger fish that so many anglers speak of? Do they exist? Do they leave the Dead Diamond system and live in the Magalloway? Do they come back to spawn? Where do they reside during the winter? We utilized radio-telemetry to gather information to determine the migration patterns of wild adult (>greater than 9) brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) both in the Dead Diamond and the Magalloway River systems. Migration patterns varied for individual fish, with the greatest movement occurring in autumn. Movements were also affected by weather patterns. Thermal stress was a major cause of early migration but when water levels were consistent throughout the year, fish stayed in the Dead Diamond system and spawned. Fish then migrated to the deeper portion of the lower Magalloway River and Umbagog Lake for the winter and returned in the spring. These fish migrated great distances throughout the year, some fish traveled greater than 38 kilometers. This research has been utilized by many state agencies and NGOs to argue the need for passage in both small and large river systems.
Session 3: Fisheries Management
Paul Perra– Implementing Improvements in the Collection of Marine Recreational Fishing Information
Affiliation: NOAA Fisheries Service. [email protected]
Contributing Authors: David Van Voorhees, Gordon Colvin, Forbes Darby
The 2007 amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act called for improvement of the surveys used in the United States to determine the catch and effort associated with marine recreational fishing. In addition, a national saltwater angler registry is required for anglers in states currently not collecting appropriate angler contact information through a license or permitting program. We will discuss the status of extensive efforts to improve survey methods and put in place a national marine recreational fishing registry by January 2010.
Leonard Gerardi– Deciphering Vermont’s lake trout populations: Contrasting historical contingency and contemporary anthropogenic factors
Affiliation: Vermont Fish and Wildllife Department
Primary Author; Craig Blackie
Contributing Authors: Paul Bentzen, Leonard Gerardi. [email protected]
Genetic characteristics were examined for naturally reproducing lake trout populations in a suite of lakes in northeastern Vermont where lake trout were known to be indigenous. Under a State Wildlife Grant (SWG) the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department collected tissue samples from wild lake trout in 9 target lakes and contracted with Dalhousie University (Nova Scotia, Can.) to analyze the genetics of these populations relative to one another and to that of lake trout stocked in these lakes over the past two decades. This presentation considers the knowns and unknowns in the history of the target populations, discusses the methodology and findings of the genetic analyses, and speculates about possible factors influencing these populations.
Session 4: Student Presentations
Nicole Baldwin– Interactions between beaver dams, commercial landuse, and long-term fish migratory restoration
Affiliation: University of Vermont & Project SHARE. [email protected]
Beavers are a crucial component of our Northeast ecosystems. Landscape modifications, specifically dam building, bestow many important services. For example, the relatively short span of a wetland created, prior to a 5-10 year flood naturally removing the dam, allows the possibility for channel migration and increased biodiversity. Despite the produced benefits, dams created with a man-made structure as a base, such as a log drive dams and undersized round culverts, have a more permanent structure in the low gradient streams that have a much more difficult time being removed naturally. Project SHARE (Salmon Habitat and River Enhancement) has developed a focused restoration program centered on restoring stream function and reconnecting the headwaters of the Machias River to the lower river. In the focus area, specifically where roads cross streams, is the primary source of habitat degradation and fragmentation that Project SHARE concentrates on. Road/stream crossings are primarily corrected by the replacement of undersized round culverts with open-bottom arches that allow the natural fluctuation and behavior of the stream to be accommodated. Removal of beaver dams immediately downstream from fish passage barriers is necessary to dewater the sites prior to construction for minimal effects on the streams fitness. Despite the case-by-case decision to remove beaver dams associated with the restoration sites, SHARE hopes to influence a connected road network allowing natural stream functions and movement of fish across downeast Maine. Although beaver dams are natural to our system, human influences can have an amplified effect. Restoration must carefully weigh the benefits of beaver dams with the benefits of stream restoration on a case-by-case basis.
Gus Walthen– The interactive ecology of Atlantic salmon and smallmouth bass: Competition for habitat
Affiliation: University of Maine Department of Wildlife Ecology (Orono). [email protected]
Contributing Authors: Stephen Coghlan, Joseph Zydlewski , Joan Trial
We are investigating if competition for habitat exists between native Atlantic salmon (ATS) and invasive smallmouth bass (SMB). Our major objectives are to determine if: (1) the two species overlap in habitat use, and at what time of year; (2) the overlap causes ATS to shift in their habitat use; and (3) the presence of SMB negatively impacts ATS growth rates. The first objective will be met through a series of snorkel observations of habitat use of both fish in sympatry and allopatry. A simulated stream and an in situ “controlled invasion” experiment are being used to meet objective two. Measurements incorporated into a Wisconsin Bioenergetic Model will allow us to calculate ATS growth rates in sympatry and allopatry. Initial results indicate that ATS and SMB age 0+ fish overlap significantly in habitat use during the late summer months, and the overlap does cause shifts in ATS habitat use. Results from this study will be used to better inform managers on the interactive ecology of two of Maine’s most culturally and economically important fish.
Session 5: Atlantic Salmon Smolt Emigration
Michael Cooperman– Evaluating the influence of environmental conditions on the survival of out-migrating Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) smolt within the Narraguagus River system, Maine, USA.
Affiliation: National Research Council, in residence at NOAA-Fisheries, NEFSC. [email protected]
Contributing Authors: J.F. Kocik, J. Hawkes
The out-migration of anadromous salmon smolts from freshwater to saltwater is a time of elevated mortality, but factors contributing to mortality have not been well quantified. During 2002-4, we used acoustic telemetry to explore how environmental conditions affect Atlantic salmon smolt survival during their migration through the Narraguagus River system of downeast Maine, USA. Each year we tagged approximately 85 wild smolt in Narraguagus River and monitored smolt survival within the eco-zones of the lower river (FW), estuary (EST) and bay (SW). Tagged smolt were partitioned into one of 16 four-day cohorts based on date of entry to each eco-zone. There were large among-cohort differences in survival within each zone (all [sub-x]2 test p < 0.03), with mean cohort survival (i.e., # exiting an eco-zone / # which entered) in FW of 0.85 (range 0.60 – 1.0), 0.70 in EST (range 0.25 – 1.0), and 0.65 in the SW (range 0.38 – 1.0). Results from Akaikie’s Information Criteria analysis indicate that survival in all eco-zones was positively related to degree days and mean and variability of river temperature, and negatively related to the amount of cloud cover. Results suggest smolt survived best when delaying migration until after the cold temperatures of early season, that late season rain events could improve survival, and that surface oriented predators (i.e., birds) may be a primary source of mortality. However, the observed relationships were weak (all r2adj. of models with [delta]AICc < 2 were < 25.2). In contrast, wind speed and direction, tidal amplitude, lunar phase, and mean and variability of river discharge were not related to cohort survival. When cohorts were partitioned into groups of good (survival > 75%) and bad (survival < 60%) survival, MANOVA (all p > 0.37), MRPP (all p> 0.18), and NMS ordination each failed to identify environmental differences experienced by the groups. Our results suggest abiotic conditions were not a primary driver of among-cohort differences in survival in the Narraguagus system.
Graham Goulette– Evaluating Atlantic Salmon Smolt Emigration Dynamics of Different Rearing Origins through Penobscot Bay in 2008 Using Ultrasonic Telemetry
Affiliation: NOAA Fisheries Service NEFSC/Maine Field Station. [email protected]
Contributing Authors: James P. Hawkes, John F. Kocik
NOAA Fisheries Service is conducting a multi-year assessment of the emigration ecology of Atlantic salmon smolts of different freshwater rearing origins through Maines Penobscot River Estuary and Bay. In 2008, we utilized a 100 receiver network of Vemco VR2 units from Veazie, 91km seaward to Vinalhaven to monitor smolt emigration. We tagged 31 fall parr stocked (FP; stocked as a byproduct of the accelerated smolt production program), 46 naturally-reared (NR; product of natural reproduction or fry stocking) and 80 hatchery smolts (HR; 1 year accelerated smolt product) with Vemco V-9-6L transmitters (69 kHz). We transported smolts to a central stream-side location where we surgically tagged and released them in the upper estuary during May. The network of fixed location receivers allows us to collect spatial and temporal data from each smolt we detected, and ultimately to compare performance and behavior between groups. We found similar swim speed trends between groups and no significant difference in migration timing. Minimal survival to entrance into the Gulf of Maine was estimated at 35.0% (FP), 48.8% (NR), and 51.3% (HR). Migration path was similar between all groups, while diurnal and tidal movements differed between groups. Detailed analyses of smolt movement, array efficiency, and factors influencing survival are underway, and were used to improve the detection network in 2009.
Session 6: Diadromous Fisheries
Matthew Bernier– Rock Ramp Fishways: Preliminary Lessons from Maines Sedgeunkedunk Stream
Affiliation: NOAA Fisheries. [email protected]
Rock ramp fishways are becoming increasingly popular in the Northeastern United States for restoring fish passage for diadromous species such as the alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus). In general, rock ramps mitigate the steep, impassable drops at dams by creating a series of boulder weirs and pools downstream of impounded reaches. The structures allow for fish passage through a step-pool morphology that resembles many natural streams. Rock ramps also minimize the drop in upstream water levels compared to full dam removals, and are often desired when there are ecological or socioeconomic reasons against complete barrier removal. In 2008, a low head dam on Sedgeunkedunk Stream, a tributary of Maines Penobscot River, was removed by the Town of Orrington and replaced with a rock ramp fishway. The project offers several lessons on appropriately siting, designing and constructing rock ramp fishways. In particular, certain site conditionsespecially bedrock-influenced morphology and the presence of large cobble and boulder substratesare thought to be very important for the feasibility of constructing rock ramp fishways. The Sedgeunkedunk Stream fishway was constructed using design criteria that continues to evolve. The project underscores the importance of close oversight during construction and the need for post-construction monitoring and maintenance.
Steven Coghlan– Barrier removal and range expansion of sea lamprey: quantifying habitat conditioning in Atlantic salmon nursery streams
Affiliation: Univeristy of Maine (Orono). [email protected]
Contributing Authors: Silas Ratten, Cory Gardner, Joe Zydlewski, Kevin Simon
Historically, anadromous fishes such Atlantic salmon were widespread throughout watersheds in Maine, but the construction of dams led to the decline or extirpation of these fishes in many streams. Recent efforts to restore Atlantic salmon have begun to take on a holistic ecosystem view, including the role of the coevolved anadromous fish community in conditioning habitat to the benefit of salmon populations. Although some anadromous species, such as alewife, have received much attention for their profound effects on freshwater systems, less charismatic species such as sea lamprey have been ignored. Anadromous sea lamprey may impact trophic and physical structure of small Atlantic salmon nursery streams through two mechanisms: delivery of marine-derived nutrients and energy via carcass decomposition, and physical disturbance of substrate via nest construction. Thus, we hypothesize that spawning sea lamprey condition habitat in Atlantic salmon nursery streams to the benefit of juvenile salmon. As dam removals proceed in Maine, sea lamprey should regain access to historical spawning streams, and habitat conditioning on a larger scale should follow. We have begun to test these hypotheses in two small tributaries of the Penobscot River. Sedgeunkedunk Stream receives a spawning run of sea lamprey below an impassable dam; removal of this dam in August 2009 will increase accessible habitat tenfold. Johnson Brook receives very few or no sea lamprey, and a natural barrier exists analogous to the dam on Sedgeunkedunk Stream. In reaches above and below each barrier, corresponding to a documented gradient of lamprey spawning activity, we are quantifying habitat variables important to juvenile salmon: depth, velocity, particle size, embeddedness, permeability, primary productivity, and prey abundance. Preliminary results should be available in fall 2009, and will provide evidence of the importance of co-evolved sea lamprey to Atlantic salmon recovery.
Andy Smith– Restoration of Watershed Processes at Gagetown Canadian Forces Base in Oromocto, New Brunswick
Affiliation: Canadian National Defense Gagetown. [email protected]
Ernie Atkinson– An Investigation of Movement of Hatchery Origin Point Stocked Atlantic Salmon Fry during the First Year
Affiliation: Maine Department of Marine Resources. Bureau of sea-run Fisheries and Habitat. [email protected]
Contributing Authors: Greg Mackey
During the spring, summer, and fall of 2006, we examined movement of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) fry in Northern Stream, a tributary to the East Machias River, Washington County Maine. This work was done in two parts: first, downstream drift immediately following stocking was studied using modified fyke nets placed at seven transects spaced at regular intervals within a two km reach. 18,500 fry were point stocked at the top of the reach and a total of 708 fry were trapped across the seven transects. The greatest proportion of fry (81%) deposited within the first 150 m. Second, six weeks after drift trapping electrofishing surveys were conducted using the catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) methodology. Seventeen sites comprised of riffle and run habitats were sampled every two weeks over seven sampling periods. By the end of the summer young of the year (YOY) were evenly distributed within the reach. This study indicates that point stocking can effectively populate a two km reach, with the advantages of less time involved in transport resulting in less stress on fry, spatial distribution from point stocking is similar to dispersals from redds, and predator swamping may increase early survival. By the end of one seasons growth YOY were evenly distributed in the study reach. Length data suggests that larger YOY moved further from the release point. Also the results indicate that YOY were moving throughout most of the summer as they redistributed themselves within the reach.
Katrina Mueller– A Focus Area Approach to Restoring Salmonid Habitat and Natural Stream Function in Eastern Maine
Affiliation: Project SHARE (Salmon Habitat and River Enhancement). [email protected]
Contributing Authors: Steve Koenig and Scott Craig
Undersized round culverts at road-stream crossings on first- and second-order perennial streams are the principle impediment to fish passage in the Downeast Coastal region of Maine (one of only a few remaining strongholds for wild U.S. anadromous Atlantic salmon). Whereas rivers draining this region are relatively free of mainstem dams, the impact of commercial road networks on connectivity and natural stream function is extensive. Road-stream crossings can create fish passage barriers through hanging outfalls and excessive or insufficient velocity and flow. En masse, they can alter temperature, hydrologic and sediment transport regimes and subsequently decrease the quality and quantity of available habitat for native fishes. Recent habitat assessments suggest that legacies from the log driving era might also be wide-ranging, significant, and wholly negative from a native species standpoint. Since 2005, Project SHARE (Salmon Habitat and River Enhancement) has focused its on-the-ground efforts on restoring natural function to all first & second order perennial streams within high priority sub-watersheds draining the Machias River (a historically important and well-protected Atlantic salmon migration corridor). These sub-watersheds are considered the “best of the best” in terms of habitat quality (existing & potential) by regional salmon biologists. A Conservation Success Index developed by Williams et al. (2007) indicates that these sub-watersheds also rank very high in terms of habitat quality for native Eastern brook trout and future security from urbanization. SHARE’s program is the product of stream-road crossing inventories and fisheries assessments at the sub-watershed scale, threats assessments, and frequent interactions with and support from state/federal biologists, regulators and landowners. SHARE’s goals include reconnecting headwaters to the mainstem and lower watershed; re-establishing fish passage and natural temperature, sediment and nutrient transport regimes at all fish-bearing sites; and continuing to expand capacity to coordinate with stocking efforts and researchers, and engage a broader base of youth and professionals on-the-ground.
Joan Trial– Restoring Diadromous Fishes to the Penobscot River
Affiliation: Maine Department of Marine Resources. Bureau of sea-run Fisheries and Habitat. [email protected]
Primary Author: Oliver Cox
Contributing Authors: M. Laser, J. Trial, G. Mackey, M. Gallagher, N. Dube, G. Wippelhauser, R. Dill
Access to rearing and spawning habitat for twelve diadromous species native to the Penobscot watershed has been restricted by dams since the early 1800s. When the Penobscot River Restoration Project is completed, access to all historic spawning and rearing habitat for five diadromous species in the lower Penobscot River will be restored. Maine fisheries agencies have recently adopted a plan for restoring all twelve diadromous species to the Penobscot River watershed. The first steps in developing adaptive management systems for each species, assessing the status of stocks and effectiveness of current population and habitat management, were started during the planning process. As the plan is implemented decisions will be made that balance managing populations (hatcheries, distributing pre-spawn adult, recolonization), habitat (complexity, water quality, non-native species), and connectivity. The challenge is integrating assessment and management of all species into a cohesive ecosystem based program while developing an understanding of how increasing population or distribution of one species affects other diadromous and freshwater fish species.
Scott Craig– Focus Area Approach to Salmonid Restoration: Basin-Wide Stream-Road Crossing and Fisheries Assessments in High Priority Habitats
Affiliation: United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Maine Fishery Resources Office [email protected]
Contributing Authors: J. McKerley, J. Noll, I. Lowery, S. Koenig
In 2007 and 2008, the USFWS Maine Fishery Resources Office & Project SHARE completed culvert and fisheries assessments at all stream-road crossings in two high priority salmonid subbasins in Downeast Maine- WB Machias River and Old Stream (above Rt. 9). We identified fish bearing stream-road crossings for a restoration strategy designed to restore ecological stream processes within watersheds that have exceedingly high conservation merit in terms of both existing high quality salmonid habitat AND projected long-term protection from threats such as urbanization and increased road development. Identification of high priority focus areas allows limited resources to be focused in a manner that improves the potential for long-term success and benefit to the resource. It should be noted that Private landowner support was established prior to conducting surveys! Working within the context of the Project SHARE Restoration Strategy (2009), specific goals are to increase watershed connectivity and instream habitat complexity, decrease anthropogenic sedimentation inputs, and mitigate anthropogenic changes in water chemistry (pH, temperature). The principle target species are Atlantic salmon (federally endangered) and brook trout.