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At present, rainbow smelt appear to represent a key component of the eastern Lake Erie fish community as they are the dominant prey for virtually every open water predator, and are harvested directly by an important Ontario commercial fishery. In response to concern over the status of rainbow smelt in eastern Lake Erie, our objective was to quantify some primary top down forces of rainbow smelt mortality that include walleyes (Stizostedion vitreum), five stocked salmonine fishes, and the commercial fishery. This objective was to satisfy a need to understand whether consumption by the major fish predators was significant relative to the measured commercial harvest of rainbow smelt. Achieving this knowledge may provide fisheries managers with an improved basis for managing the rainbow smelt resource through adjustments to stocking policies and/or commercial fishing quotas.
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Consumption of rainbow smelt by walleye and salmonine fishes in eastern Lake Erie