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Managing Maine's Brook Trout

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Dana DeGraaf

on 24 February 2015

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Transcript of Managing Maine's Brook Trout

Protection through Legislation
Managing Maine's Brook Trout
Maine is considered the last brook trout stronghold throughout native US range;
Maine- only state with extensive populations of wild, self-reproducing brook trout (> 1,000 lakes/ponds);
Maine is jewel of eastern range: lake/pond populations are intact in 18% of the historic range.
Protecting Trout Through Legislation
Establishing A-list Waters
Creating the list of waters took considerable staff time throughout the 2005 legislative session.
MDIFW Review Process
nitially, 305 waters were added to the "A List."

P.L. 2005 c. 180 directed MDIFW to review brook trout waters not included on "A List."

These were waters identified during the public hearing and work session on LD 1131 as
"wild brook trout waters."

Report back to the committee whether or not those "wild" waters should be on "A List."
Creation of "B List" Waters
March 2006: MDIFW presented Wild BKT report, “Managing Maine’s Wild Brook Trout Fisheries in Lakes & Ponds” to the Joint Standing Committee.

Conclusion 1: "wild waters" had not been isolated from possible impacts of stocking; not on the "A List."

Conclusion 2: Wild brook trout waters are an important resource & were organized under a "B List."
Creation of "B List" Waters
"A List" waters: Native populations with no record of stocking.

Required Legislative approval for deletion.

1) Prohibited stocking,

2) Prohibited use of live fish as bait.
Differences between A & B List Waters
Differences between A & B List Waters
"B List" waters: MDIFW historically removed waters in-house. Recently this provision was altered (
Title 12 § 12462, major substantive
) and required Legislative approval for deletion.

1) Have not been directly stocked with brook trout in at least 25 years;
2) Have self-sustaining brook trout populations;
3) Are considered a
principal brook trout fishery

"A lake or pond is deemed to have a principal fishery for BKT if the species is regularly sought after by anglers & makes up a significant portion of the catch."
Continue to monitor brook trout populations & change regulations to conserve species;
Evaluate habitat & protect critical areas (closed areas);
Restore habitat when possible;
Prevent invasive species introduction when possible (i.e. perched culverts & other barriers);
Conduct research where data gaps exist.
What has MDIFW been doing since 2006?

Yearly review of the "A & B Lists" & provide recommendations for waters to be added/removed:

Stocking records found (early 1900's Federal records);
Review stocking database (new "B List" water additions);
New pond surveys: presence/absence;
Does water meet "B List" criteria?
2013: Conducted internal review of justifications to change "A & B List" waters.
2005/2006: 295 A & 180 B waters

2011: 331 A & 267 B waters

New Waters Added in 2011-2012
from Remote Pond Surveys:

2013: 341 A & 282 B Waters
2012/13: Comprehensive review of "A & B List waters":
Over 1,000 h staff time

2012 MDIFW engaged the BKT public working group
address the question:

How to protect Maine’s "B List" waters with policy similar to the "A List?"

2013 MDIFW engaged the baitfish public working group
focused on state-wide baitfish management

2014: Baitfish working group continues to address management concerns.
Recent Efforts
Regional Breakdown
Region A: 4 B
Region C: 10 A; 9 B
Region D: 44 A; 65 B
Region E: 156 A; 86 B
Region F: 53 A; 24 B
Region G: 77 A; 45 B
What has MDIFW been doing since 2006?
What has MDIFW been doing since 2006?
MDIFW, in conjunction with TU and ME Audubon, conduct new pond surveys annually;
Data is used to identify new brook trout waters and fill gaps for the updated range-wide assessment (EBTJV).
Interspecifics & Intraspecifics
specifics: Other species (LLS, LKT, etc.)

specifics: Same species (i.e. other BKT)
2013 Proposed Changes
Why Change?
Water doesn't exist;
New stocking records (feds);
Accidental stocking;
No principal fishery;
Competition with introduced piscivorous species (e.g., northern pike & black bass);
No self-sustaining population;
Native species restoration.

2006 Range-wide Threats Assessment:
Georgia - Maine
Maine: Lakes/Ponds
Maine: Rivers/Streams
Municipal Road Network
All Roads
Populations in close proximity geographically but reside in different drainages can be genetically distinct.
Genetic analyses indicate structure- population historically connected between tribs.
Bottlenecks indicate negative effects of isolation

2005: P.L. 2005 c.180 - Designated Eastern Brook Trout as Maine’s Heritage Fish (2007 - Arctic Char designated)

Never Stocked = "A List" was created.

Legislation protected Maine’s Heritage
Fish waters in 2 ways:

1) Prohibited the stocking of interspecific or intraspecific predator, prey, or competitor fish species from any hatchery or wild source without legislative approval;

2) Prohibited the use of live fish as bait.
Protection Through Legislation
Brook Trout Working Group Recommendations

If live fish as bait or interspecific stocking programs are permitted, then those waters should not be included on the "B List"
Prohibit the use of live fish as bait on remaining "B List" waters
No storage of live bait in public waters
Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) program
at wholesale bait level (support for more baitfish species allowed in conjunction with a HACCP plan).
Some consideration for a statewide HACCP program.

Plan for Managing State Heritage Fish Waters

Lakes & ponds with self-sustaining brook trout populations that are sufficiently high in abundance to sustain fishing quality & are readily captured by anglers and by scientific sampling methods during biological surveys.

If brook trout presence is only seasonal, then the water’s direct drainage system should provide habitat for all life stages during all life history periods.
State Heritage Fish Waters:
Principal Fishery Definition
Amending the List of State Heritage
Fish Waters
Regional Summary Report
water’s physical and biological characteristics as they relate to:
wild brook trout production capabilities;
historic & current management programs;
present public use, if available.

Peer Review & Recommendation

Routine technical (Public Rule Making) process as established in Title 12 §12461 and §12462.
MDIFW’s current Administrative Policy for Managing Maine’s Native & Wild Salmonids, Strategic Management Plan, & EBTJV plans & assessment information continue to be an effective approach to preserve, protect, and enhance wild trout & other coldwater fisheries in ME.

These policies & documents shall collectively serve as the
guiding documents
for managing all native and wild brook trout waters.

Public Involvement

Public working groups will be established during the strategic planning process to assist the MDIFW in developing broad goals & objectives for fishing opportunities &/or conservation.

Whenever practical, partnerships & volunteers will be employed to assist in the implementation of management programs.

Public involvement also occurs during major substantive or routine technical processes.

Future Public Working Group Discussion Topics

For 34 wild brook trout waters where use of live fish as bait is permitted:

Limited list of easily identifiable and common bait species known to occur in each water
be allowed for use in certain drainages, such as the Allagash Waterway & Fish River drainages.

Commercial &/or personal storage of live baitfish
also be prohibited in certain waters/drainages.

Water/watershed specific management plan
be developed.

Additional Criteria for Amending State Heritage Fish Waters?

• Lakes and ponds that may have been indirectly stocked may be included, if the MDIFW determines that hatchery influence was likely minimal.

This determination will be made on measurable criteria based on drainage specific evaluations including, but not limited to, location in the drainage, configuration of the inlets and outlets, and distance from waters where brook trout were or are currently stocked, as well the nature, duration, and influence of historic stocking programs.

Univeristy of Maine x MDIFW: Brook trout genetics study

Future Public Working Group Discussion Topics
Background & Overview
Brook Trout Plan
Over 1,000 brook trout lakes & ponds had to be
evaluated in a short period of time.


Electronic Databases (Regional & Stocking);
Paper files (historic & current);
Regional knowledge of individual waters;
New survey data.

Modify the list of legal baitfish species
: remove species that are rare, not actively used or dealt in the market, & have some level of conservation concern;
MDIFW needs a better understanding of baitfish ecology & economics;
MDIFW needs a greater understanding & more stringent control on the personal collection of baitfish
Baitfish holding and stocking in private ponds needs further investigation and understanding.
Baitfish Working Group Recommendations
Merge the "A & B Lists": Retitled “State Heritage Fish Waters"

340 "A List" Waters
(Includes 10 native Arctic Char waters)
233 "B List" Waters

573 total waters

1) Renew focus on protecting Maine’s most outstanding brook trout resources by applying "A List" management (Title 12 § 12461) to the "State Heritage Fish Waters."

2) Recognize high value, traditional sport fisheries that provide diverse fishing opportunities for other native coldwater species where they coexist with healthy, wild BKT populations.

38 wild trout waters (not added to the State Heritage Fish
Waters list):
Unrestricted live fish as bait permitted (34 waters)
Maintain stocking programs for LLS, LKT, LWF, etc. (13 waters)
Restoration of native species proposed.
Continue to apply current MDIFW policies to protect BKT

Consistent with State Wildlife Action Plan
Consistent with State Wildlife Action Plan
Brook Trout Occupancy Modeling
Model Drivers:
Drainage Area Annual Precipitation
Forest Cover Air Temperature
Stream Slope Soil Drainage

Probability of Brook Trout Occurrence: 3.6°F Air Temp.
Probability of Brook Trout
Occurrence: 7.2°F Air Temp.
Occupancy Modeling
Figures by Dr. Ben Letcher,
US Geological Survey
Turners Falls, MA
Current Conditions
Related to Air Temp
Tools to Guide
Current Conditions
Brown: < 10 %
Green: > 90 %
Current Conditions
Brown: < 10 %
Green: > 90 %
***Important Note:

No Regulatory Changes***
*Range Wide
Muskellunge - Aroostook Co.
Dana DeGraaf
Coldwater Fisheries Biologist
Hurricane Pond, Region E
2006 Range-Wide
Status Assessment
2008. Hudy et. al.
Predictive Model
EBTJV Status Assessment
Field Assessments
Green: > 90%
Brown: < 10%
January 2014: MDIFW reviewed these recommendations during a joint Brook Trout/Baitfish Working Group meeting.
2006 Range-Wide Assessment
Full transcript