CHICAGO - A yellow perch summit for Lake Michigan anglers and other interested stakeholders is set for March 22 as state agencies and tribes seek to improve management of the fish fry favorite. Two decades of cooperative actions by state management agencies have prevented a complete collapse of yellow perch but have been unable to reverse the species' decline in Lake Michigan, state fisheries officials say.
"Despite a complete closure of commercial fishing and restrictive angling regulations by all the management agencies around Lake Michigan, the yellow perch population has not recovered," says Mike Staggs, Wisconsin's fisheries director. "This workshop will be a forum to update the public on what we've learned and discuss what direction we should go in the future on yellow perch management."
The summit, hosted by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, will be held at the UIC Forum, at 725 W. Roosevelt Road in Chicago. It will feature invited experts presenting the latest research on Lake Michigan ecology, yellow perch populations, fishing and management. The afternoon session will consist of small group breakout sessions where participants can comment on the information presented and provide input to Lake Michigan fishery managers.
Registration is free Great Lakes Fisheries Commission (exit DNR) website until March 15, after which a $20 fee will be charged. People also can participate via the web at a link provided them after they register.
Brad Eggold, DNR southern Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor and chair of the Lake Michigan Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, encourages Wisconsin anglers to attend the summit in person or via the web and to weigh in.
"This yellow perch summit will give Wisconsin stakeholders the chance to listen to the latest information on not only yellow perch but on all aspects of the Lake Michigan ecosystem," Eggold says.
"In addition, breakout sessions will provide an avenue for stakeholder comment and input into future management actions. This should be a very informative summit and I hope stakeholders will plan to attend or view the meeting via our webinar link."
Eggold says that possible steps by the management jurisdictions may include changes to yellow perch management, assessment and/or research.
Twenty years ago, a yellow perch summit was convened by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to respond to what at that time was a rapid, lake-wide decline in abundance of yellow perch. Significant numbers of yellow perch were not surviving their first year, which meant the aging adult populations were not being replaced readily by new generations of perch in Lake Michigan.
A yellow perch task group was created and developed and implemented a research strategy to explore the causes of declining yellow perch populations. Wisconsin and other states closed the commercial perch fisheries in their waters and adopted restrictive bag limits and closed seasons to help preserve spawning age adults.
At the March 22 meeting in Chicago, participants will learn about research results and management information resulting from those actions, Eggold says.
The Great Lakes Fishery Commission was established in 1955 by the Canadian-U.S. Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries. The commission coordinates fisheries research, controls the invasive sea lamprey and facilitates cooperative fishery management among the state, provincial, tribal and federal management agencies.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Eggold, 414-382-7921