Lake Erie Committee
Grand Island, New York
25,26 March 1996
[Note: A strike by provincial employees resulted in Ontario MNR being unprepared to endorse recommendations on Total Allowable Catches for walleye and yellow perch. OMNR stated that it was prepared to receive the information presented at the LEC meeting, including recommendations on TACs achieved through consensus of the other agency members of the LEC. OMNR intends to share the information received from this session with its client groups, and to act in a responsible manner when applying that information in managing yellow perch and walleye in 1996. OMNR will inform other LEC members of its intended actions once a final position has been determined.]
1. Walleye Task Group
The LEC adopted a Total Allowable Harvest of 11.0 million walleye for 1996.
The LEC added a bioenergetics charge to 1995 charges to the Walleye Task Group.
2. Yellow Perch Task Group
The LEC adopted a TAH of 4.3 million lbs. of yellow perch. (The 4.0 million lbs. announced at the meeting was increased to 4.3 upon detection of a calculation error.) The revised figure of 4.3 million lbs. was allocated as shown:
Mgt. Unit #1 1.4 million lbs. Mgt. Unit #2 2.0 million lbs. Mgt. Unit #3 0.8 million lbs. Mgt. Unit #4 0.1 million lbs.
3. Lake Erie productivity changes; realistic fishery expectations
The Lake Erie Committee meeting on March 25-26, 1996, included a technical session addressing changes in the Lake Erie ecosystem resulting from decreased phosphorus loading and continuing invasion of exotic species.
Research scientists and biologists from Canada and the United States presented data demonstrating declines in productivity throughout the lake. Production of phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish is demonstrably reduced lakewide, but is most severe in the east basin. Water clarity has increased dramatically from the combined effects of lower phosphorus levels and zebra mussels filter feeding, resulting in increased aquatic macrophyte abundance and lower catchability for some fish species.
Some fish species have prospered as a result of the rapidly changing trophic dynamics, most notably lake whitefish, smallmouth bass and, in the western and central basins, walleye. The ecosystem is becoming more benthically driven and this may be a positive sign for yellow perch. However, fishermen around the lake need to realize that these major and significant changes are not short term and may be permanent.
The Lake Erie Committee believes that expectations for traditional fisheries must be tempered to the realities imposed by the ecosystem changes. Record high harvests experienced during recent decades for yellow perch, walleye, smelt, white bass and even the exotic white perch, are unlikely to reoccur in the foreseeable future. Conversely, fishing opportunities for smallmouth bass appear to be increasing in many areas of the lake. The lake committee acknowlodges these realities and conveys to the citizens around the lake its commitment to ever better joint management of the Lake Erie fishery resource.
4. Forage Task Group
The LEC will request GLFC assistance in purchasing hydro-acoustic equipment for joint use. The agencies will reimburse the GLFC over five years, leaving ownership with the GLFC and custody with NYDEC.
5. Cold Water Task Group
6. LEC Task Group Responsibilities and Membership
The LEC established terms of reference for its task groups' responsibilities and membership (see attached.)
7. Canadian budget cutback for sea lamprey control
The LEC will write State Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs re the impending inadequate level of funding for sea lamprey control. The Canadian cutback could result in a similar U.S. reduction. On Lake Erie, further progress in implementing alternatives to chemical control would be jeopardized; alternatives have allowed >35% reduction in chemical used on Lake Erie tributaries.
8. Zooplankton study
Chairman Ken Paxton (ODNR) will explore with OEPA's Julie Letterhos securing support for Dave Culvert's analysis of zooplankton in the central and western basins of Lake Erie. NYDEC, PFBC, OMNR, and USFWS will assist in securing samples.
9. News release
The LEC will work with Marc Gaden (GLFC) to develop a news release from the LEC meeting.
10. Next meeting
The 1997 meeting of the LEC will be held in Windsor, Ontario, at a date to be determined at the CLC meeting.
MD 3 April 1996
LAKE ERIE COMMITTEE'S
GROUP(S) RESPONSIBILITIES AND MEMBERSHIP
1. The LEC may create, charge and appoint staff to committees and task groups it deems necessary and appropriate to perform scientific and technical functions and report thereon to the LEC.
2. These committees and task groups will be charged to work solely on technical matters; policy issues will not be assigned to such committees or task groups.
3. Each LEC member may select and appoint appropriate personnel from his/her agency to any of the LEC's task groups.
4. Each LEC member may nominate non-LEC agency personnel with demonstrated scientific expertise. Consensus of the LEC is needed for acceptance as a task group member.
5. Non-LEC agency personnel with a vested interest in technical task group responsibilities will not be permitted as participants or observers; rationale for this position includes:
a. Task groups work only on technical matters; not on policy issues;
b. Presence of vested interest individuals restricts the free flow and exchanges of ideas and concepts;
c. Restriction of ideas impedes the scientific and technical productivity of the task groups;
d. Task group focus, direction and working logistics could become unmanageable with potentially large numbers of observers present; and
e. When formal minutes or reports are produced they will be available to the public.