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GLIN==> News Release: Catch Limits Set for Lake Erie Walleye and Yellow Perch in 2004



For Immediate Release					
April 5, 2004		
						 
Contacts:
Canada:  John Cooper:  519-873-4613
USA:  Marc Gaden:  734-662-3209 x. 14			   


Catch Limits Set for Lake Erie Walleye and 
Yellow Perch in 2004 

Yellow Perch Increased; Walleye Reduced


GRAND ISLAND, NY - Lake Erie fishery managers from Michigan, New York,
Ohio, Ontario  and Pennsylvania agreed during last week's annual meeting
to an 11 percent increase in the yellow perch catch limit and a 30
percent reduction in the walleye catch limit for the 2004 fishing
season. The committee expressed optimism over the future of the fishery,
as it is anticipated that strong spawning success in 2003 in both the
walleye and yellow perch fisheries will lead to improvements in 2005.
 
WALLEYE

The international total allowable catch of walleye will be reduced by 1
million fish, for a total allowable catch in 2004 of 2.4 million fish.
The Committee's Walleye Task Group-comprising scientists and field
biologists-reported that walleye spawning had been poor in 2000 and
2002, and, based on these reports, the committee recommended this 30
percent reduction in the walleye limits in 2004.  This reduction
reflects the belief of the committee that the scarce two-year-old
walleye population needs to be protected from harvest to maintain a
balanced age structure in the lake.  This protection is designed to help
walleye rebuild.  Actual harvest in 2003 was approximately 2.7 million
fish.

All agencies have been closely monitoring the status of walleye spawning
during the previous years and have, until 2004, held harvest constant
over the previous 3 years.   Very strong walleye spawning in 2003-the
best spawning in more than 20 years-has generated optimism among the
committee members that walleye survival and growth will be sustained and
contribute to a more robust, stable walleye fishery, starting in 2005.  

"Members of the Lake Erie Committee have had a challenging year managing
the walleye fishery," said Lake Erie Committee Chairman Rick Hoopes, of
the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.  "While we are very
optimistic because of the strong spawning in 2003, we all agree that we
must take steps this year to protect the future of the fishery.  We are
very pleased with the cooperation among the jurisdictions on the lake
and with the dialogue that has taken place between the management
agencies and the affected stakeholders."

The annual total allowable catch (TAC) is established by the LEC 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 quota management area.
 

YELLOW PERCH

Yellow perch was strong in 2003-and looks strong in 2004-such that the
Committee agreed to an 11 percent increase in the total allowable catch,
from 9.9 million pounds in 2003 to 11 million pounds this year.  An
area-based sharing formula determines the allocation of these fish among
the five jurisdictions on the lake.  For 2004, Ontario's share is about
5.2 million pounds and Ohio's allocation is 5.1 million pounds.
Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania share the remaining allocation.  In
2003, all jurisdictions experienced excellent sport and commercial
yellow perch fishing.  As with walleye, the yellow perch spawning in
2003 was one of the best on record.


LAKE ERIE COMMITTEE

The Lake Erie Committee is made up of fishery managers representing
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 sets the
total allowable catch for walleye and yellow perch, which represents the
number of fish that can be caught by sport and commercial fishers
without putting the stocks at risk.  

The committee heard that, like the other Great Lakes, many species on
Lake Erie had excellent spawning success in 2003.  These species include
smelt, emerald shiners, and other forage fish.  This bodes well for
future fishing opportunities in Lake Erie, as larger sport and
commercial fish depend on a healthy, abundant forage base.

For more information, visit the Lake Erie Committee online at
www.glfc.org/lec


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