Recommended Lake Erie Yellow Perch and Walleye Catch Limits for 2009

MNR press release;

YPSILANTI, MI – The binational Lake Erie Committee, comprising fishery managers from Michigan, New York, Ohio, Ontario  and Pennsylvania, today recommended a 2009 total allowable catch (TAC) of 12.012 million pounds of yellow perch and 2.45 million walleye. 

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. 

YELLOW PERCH 

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, Ontario’s allocation is 5.714 million pounds, Ohio’s allocation is 5.277 million pounds, and Michigan’s allocation is 0.186 million pounds.  New York and Pennsylvania will receive 0.142 million pounds and 0.693 million pounds respectively.  In 2008, actual yellow perch harvest was 8.33 million pounds or 82% of the TAC.  A yellow perch management plan is under development and should be completed during 2009.  The plan is designed to establish guidelines for yellow perch fishery management in Lake Erie.

 WALLEYE 

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 Committee’s Walleye Task Group—comprising scientists and field biologists—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 “rehabilitation” status, the committee believes the reduced TAC is reflective of the current and projected state of the resource. 

Lake Erie agencies together monitor the status of walleye spawning and recommend walleye TACs to ensure the future of the fishery.  Based on the data collected and interpreted together by the Canadian and U.S. jurisdictions on Lake Erie, the reduced 2009 TAC will allow the agencies to adhere to their objectives of allowing harvest while protecting future spawning and substantially manage the resources. Under a 2009 TAC of 2.45 million fish, Ohio will be entitled to 1.252 million fish, Ontario 1.055 million fish, and Michigan 0.143 million fish.  The TAC is recommended by the Lake Erie Committee and is allocated to Ohio, Michigan and Ontario by an area-based sharing formula of walleye habitat within each jurisdiction in the western and central basins of the lake.   The walleye fisheries of eastern Lake Erie remain outside the allowable catch management area.

 BASIS FOR TAC DECISIONS 

“The walleye and yellow perch fisheries of Lake Erie naturally fluctuate from year to year based on the success of annual spawning and survival,” said Lake Erie Committee chair Mike Morencie of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 

“To 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 jurisdictions—Canadian and American—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€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,” Morencie continued.  “Moreover, 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.” Committee vice-chair Bill Culligan of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation added: “The Lake Erie Committee understands how its recommendations relate to the needs and benefits of Lake Erie stakeholders. 

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.”  

LAKE ERIE COMMITTEE The Lake Erie Committee comprises fishery managers from Michigan, New  York, Ohio, Ontario and Pennsylvania. The committee’s work is facilitated by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, a Canadian and U.S. agency on the Great Lakes.  Each year the committee recommends a total allowable catch for walleye and yellow perch. Total allowable catch represents the number of fish that can be caught by sport and commercial fishers without putting the stocks at risk.  The individual agencies implement the recommended total allowable catch.  For more information, visit the Lake Erie Committee online at www.glfc.org/lec.    


About Peter Wood 1192 Articles
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