perchcommercial fishing ban remains on the Table

Natural Resources board will decide, Commercial interests blame Alewives, .......Anglers are outraged!.

May/96-Wisconsin

A final assessment attempt to determine whether yellow perch in Lake Michigan are producing has failed. Mike Keniry, southern Lake Michigan fisheries' supervisor for the DNR, says the assessment program has ended with only" very small numbers" of young perch being located. "We have always been confident in our data, " Keniry said, "And that data indicated there has been no successful recruitment of yellow perch for the last dozen years"

The project was a last ditch effort made by the Commercial interest to save their perch season. Wisconsin anglers were outraged over the effort, "This was a complete waste of time, money and fish," said Jim Butterbrodt, president of the Wisconsin Federation of Great Lakes Fishing Clubs, and chairman of the Great Lakes Study Committee of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. "We have overwhelming data on the subject and we should be looking to solutions to the problem, not playing politics."

Those commercial interests who doubted the DNR's data may now have to take a different view now that the commercial assessment produced no new evidence of recruitment.

But commercial interests continue to argue that alewife population is maintained to support a food base for trout and salmon and Wisconsin's 83 million dollar a year recreational fishery. They believe, the alewives are destroying perch eggs and spawn before the fish have a chance to develop. The DNR maintains that there is not one single factor for the diminishing population, that recruitment is all but non-existent and that the complete reason for the problem is not known.

On the other hand, Wisconsin Sport anglers blame the Commercial interests, sighting the Can-Am investigation which led to convictions of six commercial interests for over exploiting the fishery by over harvesting an estimated 850,000 pounds of perch, most likely females. Anglers also point to a 1995 Lake Erie perch study, conducted by the University of Toronto, which shows commercial interests may be playing a role in the slow decline of their perch populations. (study is off-line)

"The proposal that commercial fishery be banned and a sport fishermen be allowed only 5 perch per day bag limit remains on the table" Keniry said, "There appears to be no reason to withdrawal it at this time."

The Wisconsin Natural Resource seven member board will make a final determination at its September 25 meeting in Superior Wisconsin. DNR Secretary George Meyer will have to sign off on whatever action the agency believes should take place.

A final report from the Lake Michigan Work unit will be complete in time for the hearing.


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