Niagara Falls, ON
25,26 March 1998

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY – 28 March draft

1. Sea Lamprey Control

Due to  increased sea lamprey nesting activity and increased attack rates on lake trout, the LEC requests that the GLFC place a high priority on the identification and subsequent control of these apparent new sources of sea lamprey in Lake Erie.

(The GLFC plans more intensive sampling in 1998 in order to reduce uncertainty and thus to make strong case to treat most problematic sources.)

The LEC would like to see a priori any planned reductions of sea lamprey control in Lake Erie related to treatment of the St. Marys River.

2. LEC Position Statement Concerning Lower Trophic Level Changes and Their Implications to Fish Community Composition and Productivity in Lake Erie

The LEC adopted a Position Statement Concerning Lower Trophic Level Changes and Their Implications to Fish Community Composition and Productivity in Lake Erie (attached).

3. 1998 Total Allowable Catch for Yellow Perch

The LEC approved for 1998 a Total Allowable Catch of 7.44 million lbs. yellow perch.

4. Sharing Formula for Yellow Perch Harvest

The LEC agreed on a sharing formula for yellow perch harvest that will result in three years of a position 75% toward area from historical harvest based allocation.  The sharing formula will not be renegotiated for 5 years.  (LEC – need details for this item.)

5. LEC Charges to the Yellow Perch Task Group

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

b. Produce 1999 RAH for each designated management unit.

c.  Determine a minimum spawning stock biomass necessary for sustaining fishable yellow perch stocks in Lake Erie.

d.  Define a suitable reliable recruitment “indicator” for determining the abundance of age-2 fish entering the fishable population.

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

6. 1998 Total Allowable Catch for Walleye

The LEC approved a 1998 Total Allowable Catch of 10.3 million walleye.

7. LEC Charges to the Walleye Task Group

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

b.  Develop recommended allowable harvest ranges for 1999 incorporating risk assessment and using state-of-the-art population and yield models.  Examine the utility of incorporating eastern basin fishery data into population modeling.

c.  Evaluate existing interagency gill net and trawling programs and identify changes needed to improve their fidelity as estimators of recruitment and survival.

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

e.  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.

f.  Assist Forage Task Group with bioenergetics analysis of prey fish consumption by walleye.

8. Yellow Perch Statistics Manual

The GLFC will distribute paper copies and post on the Internet the LEC’s Yellow Perch Statistics Manual.

9. LEC History Proposal for Funding by GLFC’s Coordination Activities Program

The LEC will request funding from the GLFC’s Coordination Activities Program for a 25-year overview of its activities, strategies, and accomplishments to be written by Jerry Paine.

10. Cooperative Canadian Study on Lower Trophic Levels

OMNR, DFO, and DOE plan a cooperative study on lower trophic levels and impacts on fish.

11.  LEC Charges to the Coldwater Task Group

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

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

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

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

e.  Assist the Forage Task Group with bioenergetics analysis of prey fish consumption by coldwater predators.

f.  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.

12. Environmental Objectives

Larry Halyk (OMNR) and Dave Davies (ODNR) will lead development of environmental objectives, due at the 1999 LEC meeting.  HAB assistance is requested.  After adoption by the LEC, the Committee will take its environmental objectives to the LaMP for discussion.

13. Fish Community Objectives

Fish Community Objectives for Lake Erie are in editing, and will hopefully be available in final version at the Commission’s June 98 meeting.

14. Blue Pike

Dieter Busch (USFWS) reported on USGS and Case Western Reserve U. efforts to establish a DNA reference profile for blue pike.  When complete, suspect blue pike could be compared to the reference profile.  If matches found, the USFWS would return to the LEC and LOC to discuss potential management actions, such as forming a task group to review options.  There was discussion whether combing commercial fishing logs might reveal spawning sites.

15. Council of Great Lakes Fishery Agencies

The LEC asked that the Council of Lake Committees discuss CGLFA terms of reference which allow for consultation on management issues.

16. Standing Technical Committee membership

The 1997 Task Group Membership statement also applies to the Standing Technical Committee.

17. FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries Plus Technical Guidelines

The LEC requested that the GLFC provide the CLC with copies of the FAO Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, and Technical Guidelines for Fishing Operations, Precautionary approach to Capture Fisheries and Species Introductions, Integration of Fisheries into Coastal Area Management, Fisheries Management, Aquaculture Development.

18. Interim Position Statement on Phosphorus Management

The LEC adopted an Interim Position Statement on Phosphorus Management (attached).



The Lake Erie Committee is committed to ensuring that the management of the very important fisheries of Lake Erie has been grounded in the best available science and information.  The five jurisdictions along the lake have worked together in a highly successful and cooperative manner to ensure that the critical fisheries data series are maintained, and that the expertise in fisheries science is available.

The recent major changes occurring within the ecosystem of Lake Erie have major influence on the fish communities of the lake, and on the people who derive a living or enjoyment from them.  Many of the changes underway appear to be driven by changes at the lower trophic levels of the ecosystem that  have profound influence on both the composition and productivity of the fish communities within the lake.  The collection of important scientific information at the lower trophic levels is an area beyond the immediate influence and expertise of the fisheries management agencies.  However, as we attempt to understand the driving forces behind the changes in the lake , we find that very important  data  and knowledge at the lower trophic levels of the ecosystem is missing.  The Committee feels that it is critical to come to a common scientific understanding of the causes of these changes in Lake Erie, and of their highly significant  implications to fish community composition and productivity.

The Lake Erie Committee has been active in developing and adopting position statements on current issues, and on issues the Committee believes will be important in the future.  Most recently the LEC released a position statement on phosphorus management in Lake Erie, followed by a press release in February.  The committee registered concern over the implications of further changes in phosphorus loadings to the lake until we come to a scientific understanding of how such changes will influence the composition and productivity of fish communities within the lake.  The committee stands behind this statement and further wishes to make the point that phosphorus is a critical element in all freshwater ecosystems.  Phosphorus is an essential nutrient, and finding the right balance is the important issue.

Phosphorus is only one influence at the lower trophic levels that needs to be examined as we attempt to understand the implications of the ecosystem change on Lake Erie fish communities.   The Committee has called for immediate research concerning the changes within the ecosystem.  Because of the complexity of the issue, this will require cooperation and collaboration among jurisdictions, agencies and Universities.

 The five fishery management agencies represented on the Lake Erie Committee are very interested in supporting research initiatives that will improve our understanding of the changes within the Lake Erie ecosystem, and  of their implications to fish community composition and productivity.  All five agencies are prepared to assist such research by providing vessel time, facilities and staff for projects the LEC considers high priority in developing this scientific understanding  and an ecosystem management approach for Lake Erie.

In the near future, the LEC intends to issue a clear statement of it’s priority research needs, and of the knowledge gaps that must be filled in order advance fishery management on Lake Erie.  The five management agencies(Ontario MNR, Ohio DNR, Michigan DNR, Penn Fish and Boat Commission and NYDEC) are committed to working with the various research institutions and other agencies to complete the necessary research.  In the longer term, the five agencies wish to find means of ensuring that important data at all trophic levels are collected, and that the data series are maintained.

This is a major commitment on behalf of the agencies and we urge scientists and other agencies to take advantage of it.



The Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission recognizes:

a)  the many water quality and fisheries benefits achieved in Lake Erie from the phosphorus controls implemented under the auspices of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement,
b)  that elevated phosphorus concentrations in some nearshore waters and tributaries of Lake Erie continue to contribute to problems of over-enrichment in some localized areas of the watershed,
c)  that  scientific understanding of the role of phosphorus in the food-web, fish production, fish community structure and other ecosystem dynamics of Lake Erie is currently inadequate to reliably predict the outcomes and consequences of changes in phosphorus management, and
d)  that target loadings of phosphorus established within the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement appear to have been achieved for Lake Erie, and that in  some recent years loadings have been well under the target .

Given the incomplete scientific understanding of the role of phosphorus in the Lake Erie ecosystem, and the many problems that arose from over-enrichment of the lake during the 1960s and 1970s, the Lake Erie Committee suggests that it would be irresponsible to advocate adding phosphorus to Lake Erie until there is clear scientific evidence that this would be an appropriate strategy.

The Lake Erie Committee:

a)  remains concerned over the rapid changes in the Lake Erie ecosystem and the unknown consequences of these changes to fish production and to the fish community structure of the lake,
b)  remains concerned over the current  incomplete scientific understanding of the ecosystem changes within the lake (the roles of exotic species and phosphorus in these changes are particularly poorly understood).
c)  remains concerned over the potential consequences of further reductions in phosphorus loadings to the production and composition of Lake Erie’s highly valued fish communities,
d)  remains committed to its goal of managing walleye as a keystone species within a harmonic percid community,
e)  remains committed to its objective of high quality  mesotrophic conditions (and the associated phosphorus concentrations) in the western basin, central basin and nearshore waters of the eastern basin of Lake Erie, and
f)  remains concerned over the inability of agencies to find resources that can be directed in a concentrated fashion towards developing a sound understanding of the relationships of  phosphorus to fish community dynamics in Lake Erie

Given the incomplete scientific understanding of the relationships of phosphorus to fish production and fish community structure in Lake Erie, the Lake Erie Committee does not support deviation from the phosphorus targets established within the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement  until a thorough scientific review of target phosphorus concentrations for Lake Erie has been carried out in an ecosystem (rather than control) context.  The Lake Erie Committee strongly encourages all relevant agencies to commit resources and work together to undertake such a review of phosphorus management on Lake Erie; this review must  consider both water quality and fisheries issues.

Endorsed By:

Great Lakes Fishery Commission

Michigan Department of Natural Resources
New York Department of Environmental Conservation
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission


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