Freshwater Science

Conserving and protecting our natural resources must be based on an understanding of how we are affecting fish, fish habitat and aquatic ecosystems. Environmental Science at DFO provides the crucial scientific basis for the development of policy and regulations that help to protect Canada's vast freshwater resources.

As an example, sea lamprey, an invasive species that has threatened the Great Lakes for decades, imposes biological stress on the native fish populations. Their aggressive feeding behavior has been one of the factors that led to severe declines in Great Lakes salmonoid stocks. (More information about sea lamprey.) Research into the life cycle of sea lamprey led to the development of selective lampricides aimed at killing young lamprey. These lampricides have been successful in reducing sea lamprey populations in the Great Lakes. In partnership with the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission and universities including Windsor, Toronto and Michigan State, we are now focusing our scientific effort on other methods of control, such as better physical barriers and new biological controls. (The photo below shows lamprey attached to lake trout).

We also provide scientific support to the federal government's common goal with the U.S. of preserving our shared freshwater resources. This includes sharing information, expertise and best practices, as well as strengthening and harmonizing agreements. In addition to the U.S., other partners include the International Joint Commission (IJC) and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC). The IJC is an independent binational organization established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. It advises Canada and the United States on issues relating to the use and quality of boundary waters. The GLFC was established in 1955 by the Canadian/U.S. Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries. In addition to sea lamprey control, it also coordinates fisheries research and facilitates cooperative fishery management amongst various levels of the Canadian and the U.S. governments.

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