Perch and walleye down on Erie

by Jeff Helsdon | June 1, 2013

erie - perch swimming in water
A further cut in the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for Lake Erie perch and walleye is a sign of the declining health of the resource. The TAC influences commercial limits on the Canadian side and recreational limits on the U.S. side.

Fisheries managers from Ontario and American states bordering the lake recommended a TAC of 3.356 million walleye and 12.237 million pounds of yellow perch — a decrease in TAC for both species.

The decreased hatch success in the lake’s western basin played a major part in the decision. Increasing nutrient loads are changing the western end of the lake, making the environment more hospitable for white perch, which prey on young yellow perch. Walleye were keeping white perch numbers in check when the population was high, following the successful 2003-year class. Walleye numbers are decreasing, however. Warmer winters are also a contributing factor.

“Biologists don’t know if there is a specific reason for such wide extremes in spawning success, and why overall success has been lower since 2004,” said Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) spokesman John Cooper.

Perch populations in the lake’s central and eastern basins are faring better. “The Lake Erie Committee, in their 2012 announcement, pointed out that the yellow perch stocks appear to be healthier as one moves west to east across Lake Erie, consistent with environmental conditions, such as nutrient loads of recent years,” Cooper said.

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  1. pat geddes wrote: mnr dont appear to have a handle on overfishing by commercial fishermen on eries north shore lack of enforcement poor management stategy probably are as much at fault as poor year class numbers. the tac refered to makes no allocation for sportfishing lets take that number and reduce commercials quotas accordingly
    • randy lang wrote: sport fishing for fun for the tourists yields very small or no catches in the eastern basin on Canadian side for yellow perch. the upper niagara to the mouth has been poor for the last two years yet we are continually told the yellow perch is sustaining both sport and commercial fishing. should we wait till it's too late like lake simcoe herring allowing only one herring after 40 years. very disappointed with Ontario fisheries
  2. randy lang wrote: when socks of walleye and perch are lower why would the Ontario fisheries allow three more commercial units to be licenced? The four US states fronting lake erie ended commercial harvesting of walleye and perch. This is a real sign of mismanagement of our precious resourse. Also please no cigarette butts or plastics in our waters as it ends up as small particles in the flesh of your fish.