Hatchery Enrichment Project A collaborative project between Penn State and Cornell Universities
Hatchery fish that are stocked into the wild often suffer from low survival rates during their first year of residence. Whether these fish are being stocked as a reintroduction effort or are simply being stocked for angling, survival rates are an important piece of information for both fisheries management and fish culture. If survival could be increased, less fish would be required for stocking which could result in significant economic and logistical benefits in the hatchery setting. A typical hatchery environment is very plain and simple, these environments do little to prepare fish for the constantly changing natural environment they are stocked into. In this study we are looking at introducing variability into the hatchery environment in an attempt to alter behavior and ultimately increase survival in the wild.
We are working with both brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon in an Adirondack lake system. Behavior will be assessed through a series of lab trials done at Cornell University’s Little Moose Field Station, and survival will be assessed in the lakes and ponds surrounding the field station. Small visible implant elastomer (VIE) tags are being applied before stocking to designate whether the fish came from an enriched or plain treatment group.
Recapture data is being collected one year after stocking and will be done using gill net, trap net, and boat electrofishing methods.