Changes in yellow perch length frequencies and sex ratios following closure of the commercial fishery and reduction in sport bag limits in southern Lake Michigan

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The closure of the Indiana commercial fishery in Lake Michigan in 1997 provided the opportunity to examine the effects of commercial exploitation on the yellow perch, Perca flavescens (Mitchill), population. Data from annual gillnet and trawl sampling, recreational angler creel surveys and commercial fishing harvest were used to determine whether changes in length–frequency distributions and sex ratios were altered following closure. The proportions of large, adult yellow perch were significantly greater after the closure of the commercial fishery. Overexploitation of fish >200 mm by commercial harvest likely truncated the size distribution, but recreational harvest was comparatively small and did not appear to be a factor influencing size distributions. This post-closure period also had a greater proportion of females in trawl catches, and the mean length of harvested fish increased in the recreational fishery. These findings suggest commercial exploitation influenced yellow perch population dynamics in far southern Lake Michigan.

Keywords: Great Lakes; Perca flavescens; overexploitation; population dynamics; sex ratio

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2008

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