|Catch Limits Recommended for Lake Erie Walleye and Yellow Perch
NIAGARA FALLS, ON – Lake Erie fishery managers from Michigan,
New York, Ohio, Ontario and Pennsylvania today recommended a
2008 total allowable catch (TAC) of 3.594 million walleye and
10.160 million pounds of yellow perch. Both the walleye and
yellow perch TACs represent a decrease in allowable harvest
from 2007. The managers, meeting as the Lake Erie Committee,
noted that poor walleye and yellow perch year classes in 2002,
2004, and 2006, and a below average year class in 2007, necessitated
the lower harvest in 2008.
The Lake Erie Committee recommended a binational TAC for walleye
in 2008 of 3.594 million fish. This compares to a TAC of 5.36
million fish in 2007. The Committee’s Walleye Task Group—comprising
scientists and field biologists—reported that walleye
hatches have been poor in 2002, 2004, and 2006 and below average
in 2007. Because of the continued low level of new fish to the
harvestable population, the Lake Erie Committee recommended
the TAC reduction to maintain and protect the remaining stocks.
This reduction reflects the consensus of the committee that
the fishery is becoming ever-reliant on the dwindling 2003 year
class. Actual walleye harvest in 2007 was 4.486 million fish.
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 2008
TAC will allow the agencies to adhere to their objectives of
allowing harvest while protecting future spawning.
Under a 2008 TAC of 3.594 million fish, Ohio will be entitled
to 1.847 million fish, Ontario 1.556 million fish, and Michigan
0.191 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.
Like walleye, yellow perch spawning was poor in previous years
such that the committee recommended a reduction in allocation
to 10.160 million pounds in 2008 from 11.39 million pounds in
2007. An area-based sharing formula determines the allocation
of these fish among the five jurisdictions on the lake. For
2008, Ontario’s allocation is 4.861 million pounds, Ohio’s
allocation is 4.389 million pounds, and Michigan’s allocation
is 0.128 million pounds. New York and Pennsylvania will receive
0.098 million pounds and 0.684 million pounds respectively.
In 2007, actual yellow perch harvest was 9.685 million pounds.
The committee will complete its yellow perch management plan
BASIS FOR TAC DECISIONS
“Walleye and yellow perch fisheries in Lake Erie fluctuate
based on annual spawning and survival,” said Lake Erie
Committee chair Mike Morencie of the Ontario Ministry of Natural
Resources. “This means that the Lake Erie Committee must
assess the state of the lake continually and recommend annual
total allowable catch limits, based on the science that all
jurisdictions collect and discuss together. Our top priority
is to provide sport and commercial fishers—on both sides
of the border—access to the resource while at the same
time taking the necessary steps to ensure that the fishery is
managed properly for the future.”
“Members of the Lake Erie Committee work very closely
with their constituents to take into account their needs and
concerns and to advise them of long-term trends in the Lake
Erie fishery. The committee notes, for instance, that spawning
and recruitment of walleye and yellow perch in Lake Erie have
not been strong in previous years, with the exception of the
massive 2003 year class. As the committee did last year, we
advise constituents that the outlook for higher catch limits
is unlikely for the foreseeable future. We appreciate that lower
harvest levels are hard on both commercial and recreational
fishers and on local communities. We remain committed to working
together to minimize those hardships while taking into account
the management actions that must occur to ensure the continued
health of the fishery.”
Committee vice-chair Bill Culligan of the New York State Department
of Environmental Conservation added: “All of the jurisdictions
on Lake Erie enjoy a long-standing, cooperative relationship
in managing the lake for the benefit of the fish and our constituents.
We appreciate the chance to work with those affected by the
decreased harvest levels and we remain committed to incorporating
human needs into the decision-making process.”
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
 Walleye are allocated by number of fish; yellow perch
are allocated in pounds.
Lake Erie Management Unit
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources