Experimental sea ranching of brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis Mitchill


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An experiment to induce anadromy in a population of wild brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, was conducted near Sept-Iles, Quebec, in 1978–1979. Brook trout were captured from the Matamek River, tagged and transported to the Matamek River estuary during late spring and early summer, and allowed free movement between an impassable waterfall 0.7 km upstream and the sea. Fish were recaptured in autumn as they returned to fresh water. Over two years, 34.0% of the released fish were recaptured. Best returns were in the 2+ and 3+ age classes with 38.0 and 62.1% recaptured, respectively. Straying of transplanted fish appeared to be <1%. All age classes included sea run brook trout (sea trout) but the largest percentages of sea trout occurred in older fish. Growth was better in sea trout than in fish which did not develop anadromy, presumably a function of an increased food supply at sea. Severe tagging effects stunted growth and probably suppressed anadromy, especially among younger fish. Sexual characteristics of recaptured fish indicated suppressed maturation of gonads in sea trout compared to fish remaining in fresh water and there was a shift to a larger percentage of females in the sea trout. Comparisons between our results and data on other anadromous Salvelinus species underscore the potential for sea-ranching of trout and char as a moderate effort, high yield aquaculture technique.