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Oligotrophic Lake Superior supports fewer reproducing fish species (55) and produces fewer fish per surface area than the other Great Lakes. However, Lake Superior has bragging rights when it comes to fish because it supports a robust suite of native species.

Commercial and recreational fisheries are important on Lake Superior. The health of Lake Superior's fishery has improved tremendously during the last 40 years. For example, the rehabilitation of naturally reproducing lake trout populations has eliminated the need to stock them in many areas. Problems remain for the fishery and the ecosystem, however, like the intentional and unintentional introductions of non-native fish species, habitat destruction, development, and pollution.

Sea Grant strives to improve our knowledge of Lake Superior fisheries by funding research and conducting outreach to understand:

  • Food web interactions,
  • Fish population and community dynamics,
  • Socio-economic impacts of fishery management decisions,
  • Contaminants and fish habitat alteration,
  • The use of fish as food.

Featured Content

Where's the Fat? Fish Lipids Gone MissingWhere's the Fat? Fish Lipids Gone Missing
Millions of Siscowets have shed a million pounds of fat. Science-based theories explore potential reasons why.
Lake Trout and the Tao of Research Lake Trout and the Tao of Research
A Sea Grant graduate fellow talks about Siscowets, their ability to see prey in the dark and the way of research.
Truly Superior FishTruly Superior Fish
Communications Assistant Russell Habermann crafts imagery to highlight Lake Superior's native fish species.
Cisco: Also known as Lake HerringCisco: Also known as Lake Herring
This Lake Superior fish has a history with Minnesota's North Shore commercial fishermen. The species has a sustainable future with them as well.
Lake Sturgeon and Stories of ScienceLake Sturgeon and Stories of Science
The lovely lake sturgeon can still turn heads. Learn more about the past and future of this ancient species in the St. Louis Estuary.
Fish ParasitesFish Parasites
From flukes to infections, fish are subject to some nasty things; fortunately, that does not need to affect your love of eating fish. Here are some things you can do to avoid parasites during your next fishy meal.
Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia: Are Our Fish Doomed?Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia: Are Our Fish Doomed?
Learn how damaging VHSV might be to Minnesota's fisheries.
Science Through the Eyes of FishScience Through the Eyes of Fish
Studies of fish eyesight are increasing our understanding of evolution, human health, and predator-prey relationships.
Lake Superior's Sustainable Cisco (or is it Lake Herring?) FisheryLake Superior's Sustainable Cisco (or is it Lake Herring?) Fishery
Whether you call them cisco or lake herring, resource managers and commercial fishermen are harvesting this species in a sustainable way in the Minn. waters of Lake Superior.
Trout, Ciscoes, and Shrimp: News from the Serrated Edge of ScienceTrout, Ciscoes, and Shrimp: News from the Serrated Edge of Science
Life in the pelagic zone of Lake Superior clearly has its ups and downs. Learn how Great Lakes research is accomplished and why light and predator pressure sends some species to the lake floor.
Stout Trout Eyed for MarketStout Trout Eyed for Market
Siscowet lake trout were a topic of debate at a workshop this summer. The fatty fish might be abundant enough in Lake Superior to commercially harvest. But would such a fishery be sustainable and economically feasible?
NOAA LogoVHS Virus Facts
A fact sheet about Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia.

Featured Initiatives

Lake Superior Fish RecipesFish Consumption & Health
Award-winning fish recipes and information about consuming fish and fish oils.
Lake Superior Fish ClassicLake Superior Fish Classic
A professional chef cook-off and tasting event that featured the culinary expertise of Midwest chefs and Lake Superior fish like you've never tasted them before.
Fish Sensory SystemsFish Sensory Systems
Sight - taste - touch - smell - hearing. Fish may be cold-blooded, but they're not insensitive.
SmeltThe Mystery of the Missing Smelt
Many factors have been playing into the fluctuation of the smelt population.


Returning a Fish to Deep WaterLet Em Down Easy: Returning a Fish to Deep Water
When deepwater anglers catch and release, it is sometimes hard for fish to get back down, which could end in fish fatality. Knowing the signs of barotrauma and ways to combat it, however, can help.
SmeltSmelting on Lake Superior
Everything you need to know about smelting.
Estimated Economic Impact of Recreational Fishing on Minnesota Waters of Lake SuperiorEstimated Economic Impact of Recreational Fishing on Minn. Waters of Lake Superior
The recreational fishing inudustry contributed approximately $9.74 million in direct expenditures to the state in 1990.
Watch for Nets!Watch for Nets!
Learn to identify and avoid commercial fishing nets in Minnesota waters of Lake Superior.
Commercial Fishing: The Life, the Limits, the LoreCommercial Fishing: The Life, the Limits, the Lore
Commercial fishing has been a cultural tradition and the livelihood for many along Minnesota's north shore of Lake Superior since the late 1800s, but the industry almost didn't survive. Today, Minnesota once again has a sustainable industry.

See Also

AudioFish Audio
Collection of fish audio.
VideoFish Videos
Collection of fish videos.
Aquatic Invasive SpeciesAquatic Invasive Species
Several Aquatic Invasive Species are fish that threaten our ecosystem and economy.
Aquaculture is the general term used to describe the breeding and rearing of aquatic animals and plants in controlled or selected environments.

This page last modified on June 04, 2015     © 1996 – 2015 Regents of the University of Minnesota     The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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