Change the status of Chinook Salmon in Lake Ontario to a Naturalized Species
Native to the northwest coast of North America, Chinook Salmon are an introduced critical species stocked in Lake Ontario since the 1960's in order to control the invasive baitfish the Alewife. Alewife entered the Great Lakes due to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Alewife are a threat to many native species to Lake Ontario such as Yellow Perch and Walleye because of their predatory zooplankton eating nature. Alewife contain an enzyme Thiaminase that causes reproductive disruption to predatory fish that consume them thus prohibiting successful restoration efforts of native Lake Trout and Atlantic Salmon. An added benefit to the Chinook Salmon stocking program has been the development of a world-class fishery in both Lake Ontario and its tributaries. Fishermen travel from all over the world to do battle with this great sportfish generating tens of millions of dollars each year in revenue. A tribute to the adaptability of the species is that Chinook Salmon have been found to be successfully reproducing in a handful of tributaries of Lake Ontario. American and Canadian studies have stated that the presence of natural-born Chinook Salmon created by successful spawning in tributaries to Lake Ontario represent 30%-40% of all Chinooks present in the lake. This fact would indicate that Chinook Salmon are a naturalized species in Lake Ontario. This petition addresses the wishes of New York sportmen and women to permanently designate the Chinook Salmon as such....naturalized. The premise of this permanent designation is that the St. Lawrence Seaway will always remain open therefore Alewives will always have access to enter Lake Ontario therefore Chinook Salmon will always be needed to control their numbers therefore Chinook Salmon will always be in Lake Ontario. We sportsmen and women hope this naturalized designation of Chinook Salmon will pave the way for appropriate respect and funding by state and federal agencies to help guarantee its presence in Lake Ontario forever.