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Protecting the Spring Cisco
to preserve Quebec’s biodiversity
Spring Cisco

MRNF  M. Hénault

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is currently studying the possibility of adding the only known population of Spring Cisco (Coregonus sp.) to the species at risk list as an endangered species. This small freshwater fish is found only in Lac des Écorces in the Laurentians.

This particular cisco is unique because it is the only one that spawns in the spring; all the other cisco populations reproduce in the fall. The temperature conditions of the lake (relatively high summer temperatures, late cooling in the fall) may explain why this population has evolved to spawn in the spring in Lac des Écorces.

A declining population

According to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) this population, which exists nowhere else in Canada, may face extirpation. The status and size of the population are unknown, but fish survey catches have fallen drastically over the last fifteen years.

Lac des Écorces has experienced numerous disturbances for over 50 years. Human presence has intensified since the 1970s as new areas on the shores of the lake have gradually opened to housing (principal and secondary residences). In addition, the lake has been stocked with fish of many species in order to promote recreational fishing. The Rainbow Smelt’s recent colonization of the lake, observed in 1999, appears to have become the main threat to the Spring Cisco’s recovery.

A population to protect

If the Spring Cisco is added to the species at risk list, it will automatically be protected since it is prohibited to catch or kill any species recognised by the Species at Risk Act. A recovery program will then be drawn up by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in collaboration with concerned stakeholders interested in participating in the recovery of the Spring Cisco.

Spring Cisco : Species Profile
Species at Risk Public Registry

Andréanne Demers
Oceans, Habitat and Species at Risk