Environmental Management

, Volume 60, Issue 6, pp 1139–1154 | Cite as

Use of Fish Telemetry in Rehabilitation Planning, Management, and Monitoring in Areas of Concern in the Laurentian Great Lakes

  • J. L. Brooks
  • C. Boston
  • S. Doka
  • D. Gorsky
  • K. Gustavson
  • D. Hondorp
  • D. Isermann
  • J. D. Midwood
  • T. C. Pratt
  • A. M. Rous
  • J. L. Withers
  • C. C. Krueger
  • S. J. Cooke


Freshwater ecosystems provide many ecosystem services; however, they are often degraded as a result of human activity. To address ecosystem degradation in the Laurentian Great Lakes, Canada and the United States of America established the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). In 1987, 43 highly polluted and impacted areas were identified under the GLWQA as having one or more of 14 Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) to the physical and chemical habitat for fish, wildlife and humans, and were designated as Areas of Concern (AOC). Subnational jurisdictions combined with local stakeholders, with support from federal governments, developed plans to remediate and restore these sites. Biotelemetry (the tracking of animals using electronic tags) provides information on the spatial ecology of fish in the wild relevant to habitat management and stock assessment. Here, seven case studies are presented where biotelemetry data were directly incorporated within the AOC Remedial Action Plan (RAP) process. Specific applications include determining seasonal fish–habitat associations to inform habitat restoration plans, identifying the distribution of pollutant-indicator species to identify exposure risk to contamination sources, informing the development of fish passage facilities to enable fish to access fragmented upstream habitats, and assessing fish use of created or restored habitats. With growing capacity for fish biotelemetry research in the Great Lakes, we discuss the strengths and weaknesses of incorporating biotelemetry into AOC RAP processes to improve the science and practice of restoration and to facilitate the delisting of AOCs.


Habitat restoration Fish habitat restoration Fisheries management Acoustic telemetry Telemetry 



Cooke is supported by NSERC (Ocean Tracking Network Canada, the Discovery Grant Programme, and a Strategic Project Grant) and the Canada Research Chairs programme. Additional support was provided by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada. This work was funded in part by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission by way of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative appropriations (GL-00E23010). This paper is Contribution 45 of the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System (GLATOS). Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. We would like to thank two anonymous viewers for their critical comments on this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. L. Brooks
    • 1
  • C. Boston
    • 2
  • S. Doka
    • 2
  • D. Gorsky
    • 3
  • K. Gustavson
    • 4
  • D. Hondorp
    • 5
  • D. Isermann
    • 6
  • J. D. Midwood
    • 2
  • T. C. Pratt
    • 2
  • A. M. Rous
    • 1
  • J. L. Withers
    • 3
    • 7
  • C. C. Krueger
    • 8
  • S. J. Cooke
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyFish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Lab, Carleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic SciencesBurlingtonCanada
  3. 3.U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation OfficeBasomUSA
  4. 4.U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Stationed at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology InnovationWashingtonUSA
  5. 5.U.S. Geological Survey-Great Lakes Science CenterAnn ArborUSA
  6. 6.U. S. Geological Survey, Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens PointStevens PointUSA
  7. 7.U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast Fishery CenterLamarUSA
  8. 8.Department of Fisheries and WildlifeCenter for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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