Photo of Lake chubsucker

Photo: Shawn Staton, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

The Lake Chubsucker is a small, robust fish belonging to the sucker family. Adults measure less than 10 inches in length and have a wide head, blunt snout, and deep olive to greenish-bronze back and sides.

Protecting and recovering Species at Risk in Ontario

Species at risk recovery is a key part of protecting Ontario’s biodiversity. Biodiversity – the variety of living organisms on Earth – provides us with clean air and water, food, fibre, medicine and other resources that we need to survive.

The Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) is the Government of Ontario’s legislative commitment to protecting and recovering species at risk and their habitats. As soon as a species is listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened under the ESA, it is automatically protected from harm or harassment. Also, immediately upon listing, the habitats of endangered and threatened species are protected from damage or destruction.

Under the ESA, the Ministry of Natural Resources (the Ministry) must ensure that a recovery strategy is prepared for each species that is listed as endangered or threatened. A recovery strategy provides science-based advice to government on what is required to achieve recovery of a species.

Government response statements

Within nine months after a recovery strategy is prepared, the ESA requires the Ministry to publish a statement summarizing the government’s intended actions and priorities in response to the recovery strategy. The recovery strategy for Lake Chubsucker (Erimyzon sucetta) was published on June 15, 2012 Lake chubsucker Scientific name: Erimyzon sucetta.

The response statement is the government’s policy response to the scientific advice provided in the recovery strategy. All recommendations provided in the recovery strategy were considered and this response statement identifies those that are considered to be appropriate and necessary for the protection and recovery of the species. In addition to the strategy, the response statement is based on input from stakeholders, other jurisdictions, Aboriginal communities and members of the public. It reflects the best available traditional, local and scientific knowledge at this time and may be adapted if new information becomes available. In implementing the actions in the response statement, the ESA allows the Ministry to determine what is feasible, taking into account social and economic factors.

Moving forward to protect and recover the Lake Chubsucker

The Lake Chubsucker is listed as a threatened species under the ESA. The ESA prohibits harm or harassment of the species without authorization. Such authorization would require that conditions established by the Ministry be met. Under the Act, the Lake Chubsucker’s habitat will be protected from damage or destruction by June 30, 2013.

The Lake Chubsucker is declining throughout most of its range in North America. In Canada, the species is restricted to southwestern Ontario, namely coastal wetlands in Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair (e.g., Long Point, Rondeau, Point Pelee), Lyons Creek (Niagara), and the Old Ausable Channel and L Lake (Lake Huron). Historically, the species also occurred in tributaries of Big Creek (Lake Erie) and Jeanettes Creek (Thames River drainage). The Lake Chubsucker is usually found in clear, heavily vegetated coastal wetlands, bays, channels, and ponds. Suitable habitats are decreasing in size and quality, predominantly due to habitat alterations, siltation and wetland drainage. Other potential threats include invasive species (e.g., European Common Reed), climate change and incidental harvest. Declining populations of Lake Chubsucker may be indicative of deteriorating ecosystem conditions.

The government’s goal for the recovery of Lake chubsucker is to maintain current population levels and, where feasible, restore degraded habitat near current or historic locations where there may be possibility for natural recolonization.

Protecting and recovering species at risk is a shared responsibility. No single agency or organization has the knowledge, authority or financial resources to protect and recover all of Ontario’s species at risk. Successful recovery requires inter-governmental co-operation and the involvement of many individuals, organizations and communities.

In developing the government response statement, the Ministry considered what actions are feasible for the government to lead directly and what actions are feasible for the government to support its conservation partners to undertake.

Government-led actions

To help protect and recover the Lake Chubsucker, the government will directly undertake the following actions:

  • Develop a Lake Chubsucker population and distribution monitoring protocol.
  • Investigate the effectiveness of coastal wetland habitat restoration activities to recover Lake Chubsucker populations.
  • Educate other agencies and authorities involved in planning and environmental assessment processes on the protection requirements under the ESA.
  • Encourage the submission of Lake Chubsucker data to the Ministry’s central repository at the Natural Heritage Information Centre.
  • Undertake communications and outreach to increase public awareness of species at risk in Ontario.
  • Protect the Lake Chubsucker and its habitat through the ESA.
  • Support conservation, agency, municipal, industry partners and Aboriginal communities to undertake activities to protect and recover the Lake Chubsucker. Support will be provided where appropriate through funding, agreements, permits (including conditions) and advisory services.
  • Establish and communicate annual priority actions for government support in order to encourage collaboration and reduce duplication of efforts.

Government-supported actions

The government endorses the following actions as being necessary for the protection and recovery of the Lake Chubsucker. Actions identified as "high" will be given priority consideration for funding or for authorizations under the ESA. The government will focus its support on these high-priority actions over the next five years.

Focus area: Protection and Management

Objective: Enhance and restore degraded habitat and address major threats.


  1. (High) Encourage the development and use of Environmental Farm Plans and Nutrient Management Plans to implement best management practices (BMPs) for wetlands, rural streams and drains near current or historic locations. BMPs may include:
    • restoring a healthy riparian zone;
    • reducing livestock access;
    • establishing manure storage and runoff collection systems;
    • encouraging conservation tillage; and
    • improving faulty septic systems.
  2. (High) Work with landowners, drainage supervisors, engineers and contractors to limit the effects of drainage activities, dredging, and vegetation removal on Lake Chubsucker habitat.
  3. Restore degraded habitat near current or historic locations of Lake Chubsucker to facilitate natural recolonization.
  4. Implement the Ministry’s BMPs for the control of European Common Reed within Lake Chubsucker habitats.

Focus area: Research

Objective: Improve understanding of Lake Chubsucker habitat use and threats.


  1. (High) Determine the seasonal habitat needs of all life-stages of Lake Chubsucker.
  2. Investigate the impact of regulated water levels on Lake Chubsucker habitat and the level of connectivity between diked wetlands and adjacent waters.
  3. Assess local and watershed-scale impacts of invasive species and sediment and nutrient runoff from streams on Lake Chubsucker populations and habitat.

Focus area: Inventory and Monitoring

Objective: Increase knowledge of Lake Chubsucker distribution and populations.


  1. (High) Monitor occupied sites to evaluate the health, abundance, and population demographics of existing populations.
  2. Conduct targeted surveys in priority areas with suitable habitats (i.e., tributaries of the upper Niagara River) and historically occupied locations (i.e., tributaries of Big Creek Long Point region, Jeanettes Creek and Tea Creek) to determine whether Lake Chubsucker is present.
  3. Monitor Lake Chubsucker watersheds for invasive species of concern in cooperation with existing aquatic ecosystem monitoring efforts and identify early opportunities for mitigation.

Focus area: Awareness and Stewardship

Objective: Increase public awareness about the Lake Chubsucker, its habitat requirements, the role of healthy aquatic ecosystems, and opportunities for stewardship.


  1. Develop outreach materials that highlight the Lake Chubsucker’s needs, threats to its habitat, and the importance of implementing BMPs and distribute these materials to the public, conservation partners, the fishing community and other key stakeholders. Encourage the use of existing invasive species reporting systems, such as the Invading Species Hotline
  2. Work with existing aquatic ecosystem recovery efforts to promote community involvement and implement recovery actions on a watershed basis.

The moving of Lake Chubsucker out of locations where it currently exists may have adverse effects on the species. Given the Lake Chubsucker’s specific and narrow habitat preferences and extreme susceptibility to habitat change, the recovery goal is more likely to be achieved by addressing threats to the species' habitat and encouraging natural expansion into adjacent habitat.

The moving of a species at risk without appropriate precautions may have potential negative impacts on the target species, the broader ecosystem, or other activities in the surrounding area. To be successful, these projects require long-term financial and technical commitments to monitoring, managing, and evaluating the site. Avoiding and preventing adverse impacts should be the first priority.

Implementing actions

Financial support for the implementation of actions may be available through the Species at Risk Stewardship Fund, Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario, Species at Risk Farm Incentive Program or Community Fisheries and Wildlife Involvement Program. Conservation partners are encouraged to discuss project proposals related to the actions in this response statement with the Ministry. The Ministry can also advise if any authorizations under the ESA or other legislation may be required to undertake the project.

Implementation of the actions may be subject to changing priorities across the multitude of species at risk, available resources and the capacity of partners to undertake recovery activities. Where appropriate, the implementation of actions for multiple species will be co-ordinated across government response statements.

Reviewing progress

The ESA requires the Ministry to conduct a review of progress towards protecting and recovering a species not later than five years from the publication of this response statement. The review will help identify if adjustments are needed to achieve the protection and recovery of the Lake Chubsucker.


We would like to thank all those who participated in the development of the "Recovery Strategy for the Lake Chubsucker (Erimyzon sucetta) in Ontario" for their dedication to protecting and recovering species at risk.