A declining lake trout population in the Apostle Islands region of Lake Superior has prompted the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board to adopt an emergency rule reducing the 2014-15 harvests at its December meeting.
Population assessments over the last six to eight years indicate the decline is tied to harvest levels. In addition to the board's adoption of the emergency rule, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is seeking public input to identify Lake Superior fisheries priorities and challenges to help guide long-term management of the fishery and increase awareness of the resource.
"We recommended the emergency rule to ensure the long-term sustainability of the fishery as well as the welfare of the state-licensed commercial fishers, Chippewa commercial fishers, recreational anglers and associated businesses that depend on lake trout," said Terry Margenau, DNR Lake Superior fisheries supervisor. "Lake trout are a slow-growing species and harvest reductions are needed to allow some recovery."
The 2014-15 emergency rule reduces the daily bag limit from three lake trout to two lake trout, one 20 to 25 inches in length and one longer than 35 inches. For waters west of Bark Point, regulations for lake trout remain unchanged; three lake trout with a 15 inch minimum length and only one lake trout longer than 25 inches.
The recreational lake trout open season runs from Dec. 1, 2014, through Sept. 30, 2015. The commercial fishing season is open Nov. 28, 2014 through Sept. 30, 2015.
The goal of the new regulations is to reduce the overall harvest to 50,000 fish, which is still higher than the targets set in other lake trout management units.
In addition to the emergency rule, DNR held a stakeholder meeting in Ashland on Dec. 1 and is continuing to gather comments regarding future management options and priorities for the fishery through the end of December. Citizens may provide feedback by mailing Terry L. Margenau, Lake Superior fisheries supervisor, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 589, 141 S. Third Street Bayfield, WI 54814; or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the recent public meeting, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov and search for "Lake Superior fisheries management meeting." For more information about the Lake Superior fishery, search "fishing Lake Superior."