- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

DETROIT (AP) - The expansion of a spawning reef for lake sturgeon in the Detroit River is helping the fish population recover in the area, raising hopes for future efforts to improve the Great Lakes fishery, wildlife officials said.

The findings are from the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about the Fighting Island reef expansion in Ontario, Canada. Officials used 2014 monitoring data to make their determination about the spawning reef in the river, which runs between the U.S. and Canada.

“Our data show that viable lake whitefish eggs were present on the expanded reef bed in the fall of 2013 and that walleye, lake sturgeon and native sucker eggs were also present there in the spring of 2014,” Edward Roseman, a biologist with the Geological Survey’s Great Lakes Science Center, said in a statement.

“We also found larval lake sturgeon downstream of the expanded reef, confirming that the reef is producing both lake sturgeon eggs and larvae.”

A reef was built at Fighting Island in 2008 and expanded in 2013, nearly doubling the size of the spawning habitat.

Sturgeon can grow to about 8 feet, weigh 200 pounds and live 150 years. In the Detroit River, development along the river has destroyed many of their habitats. They once were abundant in the Great Lakes region and are the subject of decades-long restoration efforts.

“The current restoration strategy is yielding positive ecosystem results and … this small, remnant population of lake sturgeon may one day be restored to a higher level of abundance in the Detroit River,” wildlife officials said in a summary of their findings.

Fighting Island is part of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, which includes thousands of acres along 48 miles of the lower Detroit River and western Lake Erie. Fighting Island also is part of the Western Lake Erie Priority Natural Area.

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Online:

https://www.fws.gov/midwest/detroitriver

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