New walleye management plan available for Lake Erie

Goals and objectives will guide Lake Erie walleye management for 2015-2019.

Walleye stocks in Lake Erie are managed under a quota-setting process. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant
Walleye stocks in Lake Erie are managed under a quota-setting process. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

Lake Erie is home to a number of species that are highly sought after by commercial and recreational fisheries, including walleye. Walleye stocks in Lake Erie are managed under a quota-setting process. The process takes into account natural fluctuations of fish stocks and the socio-economic needs of the five state and provincial jurisdictions that share the lake.

Lake Erie walleye are managed as common fish stocks through a total allowable catch (TAC) quota that considers the state of walleye in the lake based on the available science and data. Once given a TAC amount, individual jurisdictions are free to allocate it as they see fit. Ontario allocates most of its portion to the commercial fishery while in the United States, states generally allocate most of their portion to the recreational fishery. Because walleye is of enormous economic importance to all Lake Erie Committee jurisdictions it is critically important that management objectives for this species focus on sustaining the population and maximizing social and economic benefits for all jurisdictions. This must be done through a fair, transparent, and biologically justified process.

The Lake Erie Percid Management Advisory Group provides the avenue for this process. The advisory group was created by the Lake Erie Committee to allow science and data to be presented and give stakeholders, such as commercial and recreational fishers, the opportunity to provide input on the quotas prior to being set. Michigan Sea Grant serves on advisory group and contributed to the development of a new walleye management plan.

The Lake Erie Walleye Management Plan for 2015-2019, is based on advice from advisory group members, available science and data, and accounts for the sustainability of the resource. The plan establishes fish-community goals and objectives relevant to walleye. The following are the relevant goals and objectives from the plan that are directly related to walleye:


    • Secure a balanced, predominantly cool-water fish community with walleye as a key predator in the western basin, central basin, and the nearshore waters of the eastern basin, characterized by self-sustaining indigenous and naturalized species that occupy diverse habitats, provide valuable fisheries, and reflect a healthy ecosystem.


    • Provide sustainable harvest of walleye for all areas of the lake
    • Genetic diversity – maintain and promote genetic diversity by identifying, rehabilitating, conserving, and/or protecting locally adapted stocks.

Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and its MSU Extension, Michigan Sea Grant is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs.

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