During the 1960's yellow perch (Perca flavescens) of Lake Erie supported a commercial fishery that produced an average annual catch of 23 million pounds, as well as a modest sport fishery. Since 1969, the resource has seriously deteriorated. Commercial landings amounted to only 6 million pounds in 1976, and included proportionally more immature perch than in the 1960's. Moreover, no strong year classes were produced between 1965 and 1975. An interagency technical committee was appointed in 1975 by the Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to develop an interim management strategy that would provide for greater protection of perch in western Lake Erie, where declines have been the most severe. The committee first determined the age structure, growth and mortality rates, maturation schedule, and length-fecundity relationship for the population, and then applied Ricker-type equilibrium yield models to determine the effects of various minimum length limits on yield, production, average stock weight, potential egg deposition, and the Abrosov spawning frequency indicator (average number of spawning opportunities per female). The committee recommended increasing the minimum length limit of 5.0 inches to at least 8.5 inches. Theoretically, this change would increase the average stock weight by 36% and potential egg deposition by 44%, without significantly decreasing yield. Abrosov's spawning frequency indicator would rise from the existing 0.6 to about 1.2.
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Minimum size limits for yellow perch (Perca flavescens) in western Lake Erie