The fate of farmed rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) released from commercial aquaculture operations in Lake Huron
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The fate of farmed fish after escape is poorly understood. The extent to which these fish might impact freshwater ecosystems is dependent upon their survival and distribution in the wild. I simulated small- and large-scale escape events from two commercial aquaculture operations in Lake Huron over 2 years. I combined the use of telemetry (120) and Floy (1000) tags to determine the fate of escaped farmed rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Once released, escapees dispersed rapidly, showed low site fidelity (~15% after 3 months) and were capable of long distance movements (up to 360 km). Rainbow trout experienced low survival (~50%) but maintained high growth rates both at and away from the farms. The results of this study provide a strong basis for understanding the potential risks that farmed fish may pose to the Lake Huron fish community and ecosystem in an escape event.