September 2, 2022
New York Sea Grant Great Lakes fisheries and ecosystem health specialist Stacy Furgal was recently recognized by Women of Fisheries as one of six co-authors of a paper on stocking lake trout in Lake Ontario . The article was published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research. Women of Fisheries, Inc. is a Florida-based nonprofit organization of more than 1,700 women dedicated to connecting, supporting, and amplifying the voices of women in fisheries science.
Women of Fisheries released an acknowledgment of Furgal’s work with collaborators from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and University of Vermont to assess the post-stocking status and dispersal of juvenile lake trout released into Lake Ontario. This post appeared as “August Research Highlight: Storage Key to Recovery of a Native Top Predator” on Monday, August 8 at https://womenoffisheries.org/.
Furgal, a native of Williamstown in Oswego County, New York, grew up fishing Lake Ontario, Salmon River and Oneida Lake. She is part of a group of researchers, led by Alexander Gatch of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, who are studying what happens after lake trout are stocked and what can prevent them from reproducing in the wild.
Gatch explained, “Lake trout are a native freshwater fish and an important recreational sport fishing species. Lake trout have been stocked in Lake Ontario since the 1950s, after their population disappeared from the lake. However, the stocking program did not lead to the natural recovery of the fish, prompting this research.
The research team applied the use of acoustic telemetry as a new means of collecting data and calculating the magnitude and timing of post-release fish mortality and movements at a much finer scale than previously.
Over a 15-month period, the mortality of the 38 hatchery-reared age-1 lake trout that were tagged was estimated to be 26%.
“This research was unique in the use of acoustic telemetry with fish entering the lake at this young life stage,” Furgal said. “The data captured with this technology offers insight into the behavior of juvenile lake trout that can be used to inform future restoration research, particularly when identifying and evaluating future stocking sites and stocking sites. examination of suitable locations for the survival of naturally reproducing juveniles.”
The researchers found that the tagged fish remained in the stocking area for up to two months after stocking, indicating that the stocking area contained favorable conditions for young fish. Warmer water temperatures and other factors cause fish to move later to deeper habitats.
New York Sea Grant (NYSG) Director Rebecca Shuford, Ph.D., said, “New York Sea Grant is thrilled that Women of Fisheries has recognized Stacy and her contributions to research, management and fisheries education through this important collaborative initiative that is adding critical science to the knowledge base needed to support a self-sustaining native lake trout fishery in Lake Ontario.
Furgal received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology and Management from the College of Environmental and Forest Sciences, State University of New York, Syracuse, New York. She became a New York Sea Grant Great Lakes Fisheries and Ecosystem Health Specialist in January 2021, bringing her experience with DEC, USGS, and USFWS, and as a NYSG Watercraft Inspection Steward during her student internship days.
Stakeholder groups of fishers, fisheries managers, and conservationists interested in learning more about New York’s Great Lakes fisheries can contact Stacy Furgal at New York Sea Grant, 315-312-3042, SGOswego @cornell.edu.
New York Sea Grant is a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, and one of 34 university programs working with coastal communities through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Learn more about www.nyseagrant.org.
RECOGNIZED WILLIAMSTOWN NATIVE – New York Sea Grant Great Lakes fisheries and ecosystem health specialist Stacy Furgal was recently recognized by Women of Fisheries as one of six co-authors of a paper on stocking lake trout in Lake Ontario . She is pictured here holding an adult lake trout aboard a research vessel on Lake Ontario. Photo courtesy of the USGS Lake Ontario Biological Station.