October 7, 2014
MILWAUKEE -- To help identify potential options for yellow perch management in Lake Michigan, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Wisconsin Conservation Congress will convene a public meeting on October 23 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences.
The meeting will build on the findings of the Lake Michigan Yellow Perch Summit [PDF] in March and focus on potential management strategies for the important near-shore perch fishery. Featured speakers will include specialists from DNR, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Great Lakes Fishery Commission. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel outdoors editor Paul Smith also will present a brief talk on the history of yellow perch in the city of Milwaukee.
Brad Eggold, DNR Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor, said the meeting aims to bring attendees up to speed on the latest scientific findings related to yellow perch and solicit feedback on viable strategic options in high-priority areas.
"We take very seriously our charge to maintain healthy native fish populations and provide opportunities for near-shore fishing that can be enjoyed by experienced anglers and youth alike," Eggold said. "The yellow perch population in Lake Michigan is at lower levels as a result of changes to the ecosystem including the arrival of invasive mussel species. Through the meeting, we hope to identify relevant, stakeholder supported strategies for high priority areas where the survival of young perch can be improved."
Among the highlights of the October 23 meeting, set to run from 5:30 to 9 p.m., will be discussion of changes in the food web and an overview of yellow perch populations throughout the lake. John Janssen, a professor with UW-Milwaukee's School of Freshwater Sciences, and Fred Binkowski, a senior scientist with the school, will discuss where bottlenecks in perch reproduction are occurring and whether perch sourced from wild broodstock and raised through cutting-edge aquaculture techniques could potentially rebuild near-shore populations.
"Invasive species have compromised perch reproduction by reducing food availability for young perch, but there is hope that juveniles may be able to switch to alternative food sources in near-shore areas, such as native midges, invasive bloody red shrimp and round goby fry," Janssen said.
Eggold said the meeting will include a discussion session in which participants, scientists and fisheries management experts will collectively explore management options for the future including the possibility and feasibility of public-private partnerships for habitat improvement and fish rearing efforts, as well as identification of high-priority near-shore areas.
In Wisconsin, the sport harvest was reduced to five perch per day with a season closure to protect spawning perch. The commercial yellow perch harvest was suspended in the main body of the lake in 1996, but continues in the waters of Green Bay. Although these actions may have helped produce a few strong year-classes of the fish, recent assessments indicate continued low numbers of yellow perch in Wisconsin's waters of Lake Michigan.
"We hope the meeting will provide relevant information that helps stakeholders understand the potential opportunities and limitations for yellow perch in Lake Michigan," Eggold said. "While the changing ecology of the lake means we may not be able to return to the abundant catches of the 1980s and earlier, with support from private and public partners we may be able to improve the near-shore fishery in priority areas."
For more information on the public meeting, set for Oct. 23 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, 600 E. Greenfield Ave, visit dnr.wi.gov and search for "yellow perch meeting."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Eggold, Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor, 414-382-7921, firstname.lastname@example.org; Jennifer Sereno, communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov