Walleye and Perch Quotas Set For Lake Erie Anglers
SANDUSKY, OHIO - - The Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission recently set annual harvest levels for Lake Erie' two most sought-after fish -- walleye and yellow perch. Committee members agreed to reduce the total allowable catch (TAC) of walleyes for the second year in a row, while the TAC for yellow perch remains about the same as 1999, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife.
The Lake Erie Committee, made up of fisheries managers from Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario, meets annually to determine the status of Lake Erie fish stocks and, by consensus, establish international harvest quotas for individual jurisdictions surrounding the lake.
The TAC for walleye was set at 7.7 million fish, down 12 percent from the 1999 TAC of 9 million fish. The 1998 TAC was 10.3 million fish.
"A projected decline in the lakewide abundance of walleye in 2000 prompted committee members to recommend a reduction in the allowable harvest," said Mike Costello, administrator in the Division of Wildlife's Fish Management and Research Group and Ohio's representative on the Lake Erie Committee. "The abundance of two years old and older walleye is an estimated 50 million fish in 2000, down 14 percent from the estimated 57 million fish in 1999. "
"Lake Erie's popular walleye fishery will have to rely heavily on the strong 1996 year class for the third straight year due to week walleye hatches in 1997 and 1998," Costello added.
Of the total allowable lakewide harvest of walleyes, harvest quotas are allocated to individual jurisdictions determined by a formula based on surface area within each jurisdiction. Ohio and Ontario receive the majority of the walleye TAC. Of the 2000 TAC of 7.7 million walleyes, Ohio's share is close to 4 million fish, about 51 percent of the TAC. Ontario's share of the TAC is about 3.3 million fish, about 43 percent.
The daily bag limit for walleyes in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie is 10 fish per angler. Commercial fishing for walleye is not permitted in Ohio.
The TAC for yellow perch in Lake Erie for 2000 was set at 6.57 million pounds, close to the 6.6 million pounds set in 1999. Yellow perch quotas for individual jurisdictions surrounding the lake are based on a different sharing formula than walleye, involving surface area and past fishing performance.
Ohio's share of the 2000 TAC is 2.86 million pounds. Ontario receives about 3.37 million pounds, with Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York receiving smaller portions of the share. Ohio's yellow perch quota is then allocated between sport and commercial fisheries. Sport anglers are allocated 66 percent of Ohio's yellow perch quota, and commercial anglers are allocated 34 percent of the quota.
"Lake Erie Committee members kept the yellow perch TAC at a level similar to that of 1999 because yellow perch stocks are strong in the Central Basin," said Costello. However, there is concern for stocks in the Western and Eastern Basins. The continuing recovery yellow perch stocks will depend on how much the moderate to strong 1996 and 1998 year classes contribute to the population. A week year class in 1997, which enters the fishery this year, will add very little to the fishery."
The daily bag limit for sport anglers remains at 30 perch per angler and existing commercial fishery regulations remain in effect to ensure Ohio will stay within its quota.
"In response to continuing concern for both walleye and yellow perch, the committee decided to pursue coordinated, long-term strategies to protect and rebuild these stocks," said Costello. "Besides re-instating a lakewide tagging study to examine the walleye stock, we will be developing more comprehensive strategies to sustain the populations of these two key species at desirable levels."