White Oaks Conference Center
Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON
29, 30 March 2000


1. Yellow Perch Total Allowable Catch 

The LEC approved the following Total Allowable Catch for yellow perch in 2000:

     MU-1 2.2 
     MU-2 3.0 
     MU-3 1.3
     MU-4 0.066
                6.57 million pounds

(While MU-3’s TAC is 20% higher then last year it is still below the recommended maximum.)

2. Walleye Total Allowable Catch

The LEC approved the following Total Allowable Catch for walleye in 2000:

7.7 million walleye.

3. Longterm Strategy for Walleye and Yellow Perch TAC

The LEC remains concerned re the status of yellow perch and walleye and will recommend in 2001 a coordinated longterm strategy for rebuilding stocks in Lake Erie. In addition to yellow perch and walleye, smallmouth bass will be studied. A lakewide tagging study is planned for walleye.

4. Defining ‘Fishability’

The LEC referred to the April CLC meeting discussion of the proposed ‘fishability’ index for the GLWQA’s State of the Lake Ecosystem Conference, and a related June workshop. It was suggested that SOLEC organizers were confusing fish health or integrity with ‘fishability’. Also, the proposed index did not show that any of the components (habitat, contaminants etc.) could potentially eradicate fish in extreme conditions.

5. Sea Lamprey Barriers

The LMC will seek agency input on the current draft of the GLFC’s Policy and Guidelines for Placement of Barriers.

The LEC requested that the GLFC’s Barrier Task Force review the Grand River barrier usefulness in deterring sea lamprey and its effectiveness in fish passage. OMNR’s Bev Ritchie and a person from Rob MacGregor’s office can assist.

6. Position Statement on Ballast Water Management

The LEC adopted a position statement on ballast water management:

“The Great Lakes have been subject to invasions of aquatic species since the settlement of the region by Europeans. Since the 1800’s, over 140 non-native aquatic species have been introduced in the Great Lakes ecosystem. Some of these introductions have been intentional, and have resulted in benefits to society. However, the unplanned (ballast) introductions of non-native, harmful aquatic species have caused ecological, economic and public health impacts that threaten the value of Great Lake’s resources.”

“Since 1959, most unintentional introductions of species into the Great Lakes are traceable to shipping. Approximately 85% of the vessels entering the St. Lawrence Seaway have “NOBOB”(No Ballast On Board) status and are exempt from laws requiring a high-seas exchange of ballast water. However, these vessels contain residual ballast water, sediment and sludge totaling several metric tons, which is later discharged in the course of changing cargoes. The total amount of ballast dumped into the Great Lakes is approximately six million metric tons per year. Since this ballast is not presently treated or filtered, non-native aquatic organisms can survive the journey across oceans from fresh water shipping ports around the world – to be discarded alive in Great Lakes waters via ballasting and deballasting.”

“Several non-native, and very destructive organisms are believed to have entered the Great Lakes via ballast in the past 15 years including: zebra mussels, round gobies, ruffe and Russian water flea. All of these species have had profound influences on native species and food webs. Diporeia, an important food item of young lake trout and yellow perch has declined substantially in SE Lake MI due to zebra mussel filtration. Zebra mussels alone have caused the near extinction of native clams in Lake St. Clair and in the westeren basin of Lake Erie. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the economic impact caused by the zebra mussel at $5 billion over the next 10 years to U.S. and Canadian industries in the Great Lakes. The European ruffe is already the most numerous species in some areas of Lake Superior and is estimated to have the potential to cause devastating impacts on yellow perch and walleye fisheries. Exotic water fleas disrupt sportfishing by clinging to fishing lines and clogging fishing poles and reels.” 

“On average, at least one new non-native organism is introduced into the Great Lakes each year. The next introduction could have even more devastating effects than have been observed with the present exotic species. Because of this severe threat to Lake Erie’s aquatic ecosystem, including its commercial and recreational fisheries, from any new introductions of exotic organisms by ballast exchange, the Lake Erie Committee encourages and supports efforts to totally control all biological components of ballast within the Great Lakes Basin.”

7. Fish Community Objectives

The LEC established a publication target of fall 2000 for fish community objectives. Phil Ryan (OMNR) will provide a revision in July to GLFC Managing Editor.

8. Lake Erie LaMP

The LEC Chair will write LaMP coordinators re statements on TFM in the draft LaMP.

9. 2000-2001 Charges to Work Groups and Standing Technical Committee

Walleye Task Group:

1. Use the SWIM model to evaluate the long-term effect of various management strategies on sustainability of walleye

2. Develop recommended west-central and eastern basin allowable harvest ranges for 2000 incorporating risk assessment and using state-of-the-art population and yield models. 

3. Maintain and update centralized time series required for population, including tagging, fishing harvest and effort by grid, growth rate, maturity schedule and agency or interagency abundance indices.

4. Use various data (harvest and effort, index fishing, tagging, etc.) on spatial and temporal distribution of walleye to search for evidence of stock discreteness and contributions to lakewide fisheries and of the relative stability of recruitment from river versus shoal spawners.

5. Assist FTG with bioenergetics analysis of prey fish consumption by walleye.

6. Identify a protocol for establishing “M” that recognizes the implications of temporal, spatial or age specific differences in natural mortality. 

Co-Chairs:               Don MacLennan (OMNR) and Roger Kenyon (PFBC)

Other Members:       Don Einhouse (NYS DEC), Bob Haas (MDNR), Tim Johnson (OMNR), Roger Knight (ODNR), Mike Thomas (MDNR), and Mark Turner (ODW).

Yellow Perch Task Group:

1) Maintain and update centralized time series data sets required for population models or use for the monitoring of dynamics of yellow perch stocks including fishing effort, harvest, growth, maturity, recruitment and fecundity schedules and agency or interagency abundance indices.

2) Produce the 2000 RAH for each designated management unit.

3) Explore the potential for genetic research on yellow perch stocks in Lake Erie. 

4) Investigate yellow perch bioenergetics in each of the four management units

Co-Chairs:              Steve Sandstrom (OMNR) and Mike Thomas (MDNR)

Other Members:      Don Einhouse (NYS DEC), Kevin Kayle (ODNR) , Roger Kenyon (PFBC), Carey Knight (ODNR), Phil Ryan (OMNR), Bob Sutherland (OMNR), Andy Cook (OMNR). 

Forage Task Group:

1) Continue to describe the status and trends of forage fish species and invertebrates in 2000 for each basin of Lake Erie.

2) Continue the development of an experimental design to facilitate forage fish assessment and 
standardized interagency reporting.

3) Complete bioenergetics simulations to estimate consumption of smelt and other prey fish by predators in Lake Erie.

4) Continue the fisheries acoustics program to assess pelagic forage fish stocks in the eastern basin. Continue pilot survey investigations using the Lake Erie acoustic system in the central and western basins of Lake Erie.

5) Develop and implement an interagency lower-trophics monitoring program that produces annual indices of trophic conditions which can be included with the FTG’s annual description of forage status.

Co-Chairs:               Tim Johnson (OMNR) and Mike Bur (USGS)

Other Members:       John Deller (ODNR), Don Einhouse (NYS DEC), Bob Haas (MDNR), Chuck Murray (PFBC), Lars Rudstam (Cornell U.), Les Sztramko (OMNR), Mike Thomas (MDNR), Jeff Tyson (ODNR) , Betsy Trometer (USFWS) and Larry Witzel (OMNR).

Coldwater Task Group:

1. Coordinate annual standardized lake trout assessment among all eastern basin agencies and report upon the status of lake trout rehabilitation. 

2. Continue to assess the whitefish and burbot population age structure, growth, diet, seasonal distribution and other population parameters. 

3. Continue to participate in the IMSL process on Lake Erie to outline and prescribe the needs of the Lake Erie sea lamprey management program. 

4. Maintain an annual interagency electronic database of Lake Erie salmonid stocking and current projections for the STC, GLFC and Lake Erie agency data depositories.

5. Assist FTG with bioenergetics analysis of prey fish consumption by Coldwater predators. 

6. Report on the status of rainbow trout in Lake Erie, including stocking numbers, strains being stocked, academic and resource agency research interests, and related population parameters, including growth, diet and exploitation. 

7. Monitor current status of Lake Herring. Review ecology and history of this species and assess potential for recovery.

Co-Chairs:                   Chuck Murray (PFBC) and Phil Ryan (OMNR)

Other Members:
Mike Bur                       United States Geological Survey: Biological Resource Division
Andy Cook                    Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Vacant                           New York Department of Environmental Conservation
John Fitzsimons              Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada
Jim Francis Michigan      Department of Natural Resources
Kevin Kayle                   Ohio Division of Wildlife
Geraldine Larson            United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Al Murray                      Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Elizabeth Trometer          United States Fish and Wildlife Service
John Heinrich                  United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Paul Sullivan                    Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada
Martin Stapanian             United States Geological Survey: Biological Resource Division

Community Assessment Task Group:

1. Inventory the gill-net surveys being conducted on Lake Erie that may provide community information, summarize problems and issues, collect and summarize data that is used to convert data between surveys (i.e. multi:mono ratios).

2. Develop a strategy (similar gear, correction factors etc.), to allow agencies to combine data and produce descriptions of population and community characteristics. Develop a database strategy (format, summary strategy etc).

3. Identify useful products from the combined databases eg GM for age for perch, CPUE trends for YOY, YAO shad, total fish biomass and size spectrum, biodiversity measures; develop strategy for annual reporting. Produce a report to summarize protocol, agreements, strategies etc.

Chairman:                        Andy Cook
Other Members:              representatives of NYS DEC, PFBC, ODNR, and MDNR, as needed

Habitat Task Group:

1. Complete Terms of Reference for the Habitat Task Group. The Terms of Reference must include a detailed description of the process to be adopted to finalize development of Environmental Objectives.

2. Obtain STC endorsement and expert validation on a process for development and refinement of Environmental Objectives for the Lake Erie Fish Community.

3. Document habitat related projects (e.g. critical information collection, habitat rehabilitation projects, habitat quantification, etc.) being conducted or proposed by LEC agency members and partners in the Lake Erie Basin. 

Co-chairs:                       Larry Halyk (OMNR) and Dave Davies (ODNR)

Other members:               Bob Haas (MDNR), Roger Kenyon (PFBC) and Mike Wilkinson (NYS DEC).

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