Adam’s Mark Hotel
Buffalo, NY
27, 28 March 2002


Lake Erie Committee members
Chair Gary Towns (MDNR)
Vice Chair Mike Morencie (OMNR)
Bill Culligan (NYDEC)
Rick Hoopes (PFBC)
Roger Knight (ODNR)

1. Lake Erie Committee Statement on the Public Comment Session

The Lake Erie Committee valued and appreciated the comments offered by representatives of stake holder groups and individuals regarding the 2002 walleye and yellow perch TACs. The comments were discussed during the executive session and were considered during the TAC deliberation process. 

Public comments offered in 2002 will not be included in the minutes. If a public comment period is offered in future LEC Meetings, and if commenters wish to have such comments recorded, representatives of stake holder groups and individuals with comments will be asked to submit written statements in advance or several days after the of the LEC annual meeting, for inclusion in the minutes. 

2. Lake Erie Committee Statement on Walleye Total Allowable Catch for 2002

The LEC continues to endorse the coordinated percid management strategy adopted by the five Lake Erie management agencies in 2000. This agreement called for a fixed TAC level of 3.4 million fish for a three-year period, unless indicators suggested further reductions were necessary to halt walleye stock declines. Stock assessment analysis indicated no need to further reduce the harvest level in 2002. Therefore, the LEC agreed to maintain the walleye TAC for 2002 of 3.4 million fish. The LEC expects that continued conservative walleye TACs will encourage recovery of Lake Erie walleye stocks.

3. Lake Erie Committee Statement on Yellow Perch Total Allowable Catch for 2002

The coordinated percid management strategy endorsed by the LEC in 2000 applied to yellow perch as well as walleye. Many indicators suggest that yellow perch abundance has increased in recent years. The strong 1996, 1998, and 1999 year classes will support increased harvest levels in 2002. The LEC agreed to a lakewide yellow perch TAC for 2002 of 9.333 million pounds. The LEC remains concerned about effects of exotic species, stock structure uncertainties, and recruitment variability. The weak 2000 year- class will impact the fisheries in 2003. 

  RAH Min  RAH Mean  RAH Max  2001 TAC  2002 TAC
MU1 1.728  2.827 3.925 1.8  3.1
MU2 2.441  3.665  4.889 3.5  4.1
MU3 1.179 1.827 2.475 1.73 2.0
MU4 0.359  0.671 0.982  0.07  0.133
Total  5.708  8.989  12.271  7.1  9.333

5. Position Statement on Walleye Stocking

The LEC tabled for now the drafting of a walleye stocking position statement which former ODNR LEC member Mike Costello was producing. 

6. Fish Community Goals and Objectives, Environmental Objectives

Pending any small editorial changes recommended by the GLFC’s Science Director, fish community objectives should soon be published. The LEC expressed its gratitude to Phil Ryan (OMNR) for his efforts in shepherding the fish community objectives to conclusion.

The LEC will review the draft environmental objectives for consistency and support of fish community objectives. If needed, the LEC may sponsor a submission for FY 2003 Coordination Activities Program (due 15 June 2002) to further develop its environmental objectives.

7. Task Group Charges

The Standing Technical Committee chair will compile and amend proposed revisions for LEC attention. 

8. Proposal Priorities for Funding under Restoration Act (USFWS), Coordination Activities Program (GLFC), and Fisheries Research Program (GLFC)

LEC members will convey to the CLC’s Restoration Act Review Panel its Lake Erie priorities for funding under the Act: Lake St. Clair / Erie GIS database and comparison of genetic techniques for stock discrimination, followed by botulism, Lower lakes whitefish, and goby proposals. Beyond Lake Erie, the LEC also saw value in proposals to study Lake Michigan yellow perch, Lake Michigan acoustics as well as some other studies. 

The LEC sponsored the following proposals for consideration under the GLFC’s Coordination Activities Program and the Fisheries Research Program: Lake Erie acoustics (Echo View), St. Clair water levels, burbot population dynamics, database of lower trophic levels, and acoustics gear (Net Mind). 

9. Decision Analysis Workshop

Given the possible unavailability of OMNR biologists due to the provincial strike, the LEC will confer with the organizer of the April decision analysis workshop, Mike Jones (MSU), to determine whether he can lead the 22,23 April workshop alone if necessary. Likewise the LEC will investigate whether the hotel contract can be cancelled as late as 15 April, if necessary. Update – the workshop was postponed until a later date.

10. Topics for Discussion by Council of Lake Committees

The LEC asks that the CLC discuss appropriate management responses to the parasite Heterosporis and the Asian carps, which are extending their range and could be significant additions to Lake Erie.

11. Lake Erie Committee Statement on Yellow Perch Sharing Formula Transition

The LEC agreed to continue the transition from historical share to area share for the yellow perch sharing formula. Discussions on the final transition timeframe have begun and will be finalized in June. 

12. LaMP Rehabilitation of Near shore Habitat and Lower Tributaries

On behalf of LEC, Phil Ryan (OMNR) drafted a statement of support for LaMP efforts to rehabilitate near shore and lower tributary habitat. The LEC adopted this statement and read it into the record during the announcement period.

13. Lake Trout Strains

The LEC will write the USFWS requesting that 80,000 lake trout of the humper or Klondike strain be stocked in replacement for the Superior strain.