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Annual harvests of lake herring (Coregonus artedii) in American waters of Lake Superior declined from an average of 2 million kg in 1936-62 to less than 25 000 kg in 1978. Analysis of commercial fishing records revealed that the sequential overexploitation of discrete unit stocks caused the collapse of the herring population in Wisconsin waters. In each of six major spawning areas, catch exceeded the productive capacity of the stock and the stock failed. Because stocks in the six areas were exploited sequentially, mostly in groups of two or three simultaneously, the demise of the stocks was not readily apparent until the last two failed in the early 1960s. After the collapse of the last major spawning stock, the fishery dwindled but may have continued to overexploit the remaining small stocks. The residual populations were apparently able only to replace themselves. Some form of density-independent mortality was apparently operating to prevent their recovery during the 1960s and 1970s.
Additional Publication Details
Decline of lake herring (Coregonus artedii) in Lake Superior: an analysis of the Wisconsin herring fishery, 1936-78
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences