Prepared by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Adoption of the Recovery Strategy for the Lake Chubsucker (Erimyzon sucetta) in Canada (Staton et al, 2010)

The Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) requires the Minister of Natural Resources to ensure recovery strategies are prepared for all species listed as endangered or threatened on the Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) List. Under the ESA, a recovery strategy may incorporate all or part of an existing plan that relates to the species.

Lake Chubsucker is listed as threatened on the SARO List. The species is also listed as threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). Fisheries and Oceans Canada prepared the Recovery Strategy for the Lake Chubsucker in Canada in June, 2010 to meet their requirements under the SARA. This recovery strategy is hereby adopted under the ESA. With the additions indicated below, the enclosed strategy meets all of the content requirements outlined in the ESA.

Section 2.7.1 of the federal recovery strategy provides an identification of critical habitat (as defined under the SARA). Identification of critical habitat is not a component of a recovery strategy prepared under the ESA. However, it is recommended that the areas of critical habitat identified in Section 2.7.1 be considered when developing a habitat regulation under the ESA.

Executive summary

Prepared by Shawn Staton, Kara Vlasman and Amy Edwards

The lake chubsucker is declining throughout most of its range across Canada and the United States. The Canadian range of this species is restricted to southwestern Ontario in the Ausable River drainage, Lake St. Clair, Thames River drainage, coastal wetlands of Lake Erie and several tributaries of Big Creek and the Niagara River.

The lake chubsucker is a small (less than 254 mm in total length), robust, deep- bodied member of the sucker family, Catostomidae. Across its North American range, the lake chubsucker typically inhabits clear, well-vegetated, slow-moving or still waters with substrates of gravel, sand, silt and organic debris. Ontario specimens are usually captured in heavily vegetated, stagnant bays, channels, ponds and swamps. Suitable habitats are thought to be decreasing in size and quality, predominantly due to agriculture-induced siltation and wetland drainage.

The lake chubsucker is considered a Threatened species under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). As such, the Act requires that a recovery strategy be developed to identify approaches required to arrest or reverse the species' decline. Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Parks Canada Agency, in cooperation with the government of Ontario and Environment Canada, have developed a recovery strategy to facilitate the protection and recovery of this species.

The long-term recovery goal (>20 years) is to maintain current populations of the lake chubsucker and restore viable populations to formerly occupied wetland habitats. The following short/medium-term recovery objectives will be addressed over a 5-10 year period to assist with meeting the long-term goal:

  1. Refine population and distribution objectives;
  2. Ensure adequate protection of critical habitat;
  3. Determine long-term population and habitat trends;
  4. Identify threats, evaluate their relative impacts, and implement remedial actions to reduce their effects, where feasible;
  5. Determine the feasibility of repatriations for populations that may be extirpated or reduced;
  6. Enhance efficiency of recovery efforts through coordination of recovery efforts with aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem recovery teams and other relevant or complementary groups/initiatives; and,
  7. Improve overall awareness of the lake chubsucker and the role of healthy aquatic ecosystems, and their importance to humans.

The recovery team has identified several approaches necessary to ensure that recovery objectives for the lake chubsucker are met. These approaches have been organized into three categories; urgent actions are summarized below:

Research and monitoring:

  • Conduct targeted background surveys at historical sites as well as other areas of suitable habitat.
  • Conduct targeted surveys of existing populations to determine range, abundance, and population demographics.
  • Develop and implement a population and habitat monitoring program to assess changes in population and habitat characteristics.
  • Determine seasonal habitat needs of all life-stages of the species.

Management and coordination:

  • Share knowledge with relevant ecosystem recovery teams and work cooperatively to implement recovery actions.
  • Encourage municipalities to protect habitats that are important to the lake chubsucker. Ensure planning and management agencies are aware of habitats that are important to the lake chubsucker.

Stewardship, outreach and awareness:

  • Promote stewardship among owners of land abutting habitats of the lake chubsucker. Ensure they are aware of opportunities for financial assistance.
  • Work with landowners to implement best management practices. Encourage the completion and implementation of Environmental Farm and Nutrient Management Plans.

Using available data, critical habitat has been partially identified for extant lake chubsucker populations in the Old Ausable Channel, L Lake, St. Clair National Wildlife Area (NWA; St. Clair Unit), Point Pelee National Park, Rondeau Bay, Long Point Bay (including Long Point NWA and Long Point Provincial Park), Big Creek NWA and Lyon’s Creek. A schedule of studies has been developed that outlines necessary steps to further refine these critical habitat descriptions.

A dual approach to recovery implementation will be taken which combines an ecosystem-based approach complemented by a single-species focus. This will be accomplished through coordinated efforts with relevant multi-institutional ecosystem-based recovery teams (Ausable River, Thames River, Essex-Erie and Walpole Island) and their associated Recovery Implementation Groups. The recovery strategy will be supported by one or more action plans that will be developed within five years of the final strategy being posted on the SARA registry. The success of recovery actions in meeting recovery objectives will be evaluated through the performance measures provided. The entire recovery strategy will be reported on every five years to evaluate progress and to incorporate new information.

Updated: June 17, 2021
Published: July 11, 2017