MNR press release;
The yellow perch TAC represents an increase from last year while the walleye TAC represents a decrease. The committee based this recommendation on the current strength of yellow perch stocks in Lake Erie and on the fact that walleye recruitment has been poor or moderate during the previous several years, with the exception of 2003.
Stock assessment of yellow perch showed increases in abundance in all areas of Lake Erie relative to 2008. Therefore, the committee recommended an increase in allocation of yellow perch to 12.012 million pounds in 2009 from 10.160 million pounds in 2008. An area-based sharing formula determines the allocation of these fish among the five jurisdictions on the lake. For 2009,
The Lake Erie Committee recommended a binational TAC for walleye in 2009 of 2.45 million fish, compared to the TAC of 3.594 million fish in 2008. Actual walleye harvest in 2008 was 2.917 million fish, or 77% of the TAC.
The Committeeâ€™s Walleye Task Groupâ€”comprising scientists and field biologistsâ€”reported that walleye hatches had been weak in 2002, 2004, and 2006; below average in 2005 and 2008; and moderate in 2007. The last above-average walleye year class in Lake Erie was the colossal hatch of 2003. The Lake Erie Committee noted that the walleye fishery continues to be reliant on that ever-diminishing 2003 year class.
The number of walleye in Lake Erie is expected to decline from 18.4 million fish in 2009 to 15.7 million fish in 2010. Because these abundance levels represent a fishery in â€œrehabilitationâ€ status, the committee believes the reduced TAC is reflective of the current and projected state of the resource.
BASIS FOR TAC DECISIONS
â€œThe walleye and yellow perch fisheries of Lake Erie naturally fluctuate from year to year based on the success of annual spawning and survival,â€ said Lake Erie Committee chair Mike Morencie of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
â€œTo manage around these fluctuations, the Lake Erie Committee needs to continually monitor the state of the fishery, consider the probable future state, and recommend annual harvest allocations. The committee bases its decisions on a consensus understanding of the science that all jurisdictions collect and evaluate together.
All jurisdictionsâ€”Canadian and Americanâ€”are motivated by a desire to allow sport and commercial harvest balanced by a need to take the steps required to ensure future harvest.â€ â€œAll Lake Erie Committee members remain committed to building and maintaining a close, working relationship with those who depend on the walleye and yellow perch fisheries for food, income, and recreation,â€ Morencie continued. â€œMoreover, the members work hard to advise stakeholders about long-term trends in the Lake Erie fishery and how those trends might affect future allocations.
For example, the committee is deeply concerned about the frequency of weak walleye year classes during the past decade. The 2003 year class remains the only strong year class present in the fishery. As time goes on without adequate recruitment, future harvest levels will decline. As the committee did last year, we advise constituents that the outlook for higher walleye catch limits is unlikely for the foreseeable future. Although the outlook for the yellow perch fishery is solid for 2009, the committee is cautious about the future strength of that fishery.â€ Committee vice-chair Bill Culligan of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation added: â€œThe Lake Erie Committee understands how its recommendations relate to the needs and benefits of
The committee has placed much emphasis on incorporating the human needs into the decision-making process and will work continually to improve this commitment, through the establishment of a human dimensions task group.â€