Renovated hatchery could bolster lake trout populations

Project Summary: The Allegheny National Fish Hatchery re-opened in 2012, seven years after a deadly fish virus and infrastructure problems forced the facility to shut down. The renovated facility, which can produce 1 million native lake trout annually, is the only hatchery dedicated to supporting struggling lake trout fisheries in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

 

Project name: Allegheny National Fish Hatchery renovation.

Location: Warren, Pa.

The newly renovated Allegheny National Fish Hatchery. Photo from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The newly renovated Allegheny National Fish Hatchery. Photo from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Description: From 1974 until 2005, the Allegheny National Fish Hatchery produced as many as 1.3 million lake trout annually for lakes Erie and Ontario. The hatchery was closed and all the fish were destroyed in 2005 after fish there tested positive for a highly contagious and incurable virus. The hatchery was decontaminated but major infrastructure problems were discovered during the decontamination process. Those problems prevented the resumption of fish production, which led to major renovations. During the renovations, lake trout from hatcheries in other states were trucked to lakes Erie and Ontario. Because there are no self-sustaining populations of lake trout in the lower Great Lakes, hatcheries are critical to maintaining the fishery. Improvements at the Allegheny National Fish Hatchery could lead to self-sustaining lake trout populations in lakes Erie and Ontario.

Approximate cost of project: $1.7 million, most of which came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Fish raised in the hatchery will support the struggling lake trout populations in lakes Erie and Ontario. Photo from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Fish raised in the hatchery will support the struggling lake trout populations in lakes Erie and Ontario. Photo from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Resource challenges addressed: The 2005 closure of the only hatchery dedicated to producing lake trout for Lake Ontario and Lake Erie meant fewer fish in the lakes and hampered efforts to restore self-sustaining populations of the native fish species.

Key partners (public and private): The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the William T. Spaeder Co., the general contractor on the project.

Types of jobs created: The project supported about 25 jobs, including construction workers, engineers, plumbers, biologists and general laborers.

Results and accomplishments: The renovated hatchery will provide a reliable supply of native lake trout for lakes Erie and Ontario and bolster efforts to create self-sustaining lake trout populations in those lakes. The first batch of lake trout reared at the hatchery will be released in the lakes in May 2013.

Web site: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/allegheny/

Originally Published: November 13, 2012

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