Lake Erie Walleye and Yellow Perch Fisheries Quotas Announced for 2004|
COLUMBUS, OH - The Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission
has reduced the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for walleye and increased the
TAC for yellow perch in 2004, according to the Ohio Department of Natural
Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
The TAC for walleye was set at 2.4 million fish for the 2004 fishing season,
30 percent lower than a year ago, while the yellow perch TAC was increased
by 11 percent over last year to 11 million pounds. The TAC is set in numbers
of adult fish for walleye, but in pounds for yellow perch.
The reduction in the walleye quota reaffirms the commitment by Ohio, other
states and Ontario to rebuild walleye stocks that had fallen to very low
levels after poor reproduction in 2000 and 2002. Anglers will continue to
benefit lake wide from abundant hatches in 1999 and 2001. With conservation
measures in place, a strong hatch in 2003 should boost numbers of adult fish
significantly in coming years.
"Interagency efforts that began in 2001 to rebuild walleye stocks are
ongoing," said Roger Knight, Lake Erie fisheries administrator for the ODNR
Division of Wildlife. "We are very optimistic about major improvements in
the health of Lake Erie walleye stocks over the next few years and expect
better fishing in the immediate future."
The Lake Erie Committee, which consists of fisheries managers from Ohio,
Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario, meets annually to review the
status of walleye and yellow perch and to establish sustainable levels of
catch across the lake.
The 2004 TAC will be distributed among four states and the province of
Ontario according to a formula based on the proportional surface area within
the region of Lake Erie designated as prime walleye habitat by the Lake Erie
Committee. Ohio's share, often referred to as the state's "quota," will be
about 51 percent of the new TAC, or about 1.2 million fish in 2004. Ontario
receives the next largest quota of about 43 percent, or 1 million walleye.
In anticipation of reduced quotas, nearly all agencies instituted changes in
fishing regulations for 2004. New Ohio regulations include a reduced daily
bag limit during March and April of three fish per person; a 15-inch minimum
size limit in all areas year-round; and a ban on treble hooks in Maumee and
Sandusky bays during the March through April spawning period.
Yellow perch populations have responded well to major conservation efforts
by the Lake Erie Committee since the early 1990s. Recent estimates reflect
higher abundance of adult perch throughout most of Lake Erie. A strong hatch
in 2003 is expected to offset a poor hatch in 2002 and maintain relatively
high levels of yellow perch over the next few years.
Of the 11 million pound yellow perch TAC in 2004, the Lake Erie Committee
has issued nearly 7 million pounds in the Central Basin and just under 4
million pounds in the Western Basin of Lake Erie. Ohio's 2004 quota is about
5.1 million pounds between both of these areas, an increase of about 19
percent over the 2003 quotas. Ontario's quota is 5.2 million pounds and the
remaining TAC is allocated among Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York.
"We are extremely pleased to see successful recovery of yellow perch stocks
in Lake Erie, considering where they were just a decade ago," Knight said.
"Perch stocks are showing signs of stability and we expect to have excellent
fishing in 2004."
The 30-fish daily bag limit for anglers and existing commercial fishing
regulations remain in effect for 2004.