Lake Huron freshwater finfish net pen aquaculture operations provide opportunities for energetic subsidies to local wild fish

Moore, Chelsea
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University of Guelph

While freshwater aquaculture is poised to expand in Canada, sustainable growth of the industry must consider effects on local wild fish populations. Here, I used stable isotopes and fatty acid analysis to look for evidence of energetic subsidies to local fish communities from rainbow trout fish farms in Lake Huron. Strong evidence of energetic subsidies to local wild fish was detected at one of three sites studied. Interestingly, where aquaculture subsidies were detected, lake trout were found to have lower condition factors. An examination of the physical and ecological differences among sites provided insights into the potential for freshwater aquaculture operations to provide energy subsidies to local wild fish. Such factors should be considered in collaboration with local Indigenous partners who can lend substantial historical knowledge about the specific ecosystem being considered when considering future potential sites for new aquaculture operations.

Aquaculture, Rainbow Trout, Lake Huron, Biotracers, Nutrient Loading, Food Web Subsidies