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Past population estimates of adult walleyes Stizostedion vitreum can be used to set harvest quotas, provided that temporal variability in abundance of adult walleyes is accounted for. We used a long-term data set from Escanaba Lake, Wisconsin, to evaluate the accuracy of past population estimates for setting current-year quotas for adult walleyes. The results from Escanaba Lake were corroborated by comparison with other lakes where adult walleye abundance was estimated in more than 1 year. The accuracy of estimates of adult walleye abundance declined over time from the year the estimate was obtained to the year it was used to set a harvest quota. We derived safety factors for application to past estimates of population size; these factors limit the occurrence of an exploitation rate exceeding the maximum sustainable rate (35%) to approximately 1 in 40. These safety factors declined from 35% for 1-year-old estimates to less than 20% for 10-year-old estimates.
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Derivation of safety factors for setting harvest quotas on adult walleyes from past estimates of abundance