Ken Cain

Monday, February 22 2010


Ken Cain, associate professor of fishery resources, has been awarded $161,741 from the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho and Bonneville Power Administration for continued development of conservation aquaculture methods to recover burbot populations in the Kootenai River. Burbot is a unique species of freshwater cod. This work began in 2003 and has been conducted at the University of Idaho’s Aquaculture Research Institute (UI-ARI). In Idaho, burbot are only found in the Kootenai River. The Kootenai Tribe initiated recovery of this nearly extinct stock and is collaborating with many agencies.

Research at the University of Idaho has focused on developing captive rearing techniques and characterizing disease susceptibility. With fundamental methods in place, the program reached a historical milestone this past year with the first experimental release of burbot into the Kootenai River system. Burbot cultured at the UI-ARI were released in four different locations in British Columbia and Idaho. This is the first time burbot have been artificially propagated and subsequently released jointly into U.S. and Canadian waters for conservation purposes. Although many additional questions remain, the success of this project paves the way for ongoing research, and sets the stage to initiate in-river studies on critical habitat and ecological requirements needed for recovery of this fish in the Kootenai River.