Written by Jen Finn
LAKE Erie's multi-species commercial fishery has entered MSC assessment. If certified, this fishery will provide a significant volume of lake fish to markets in North America and globally.
The fishery client, Ontario Commercial Fisheries' Association (OCFA), has contracted with independent certifier Intertek Moody Marine (IMM) to conduct the assessment against the global MSC standard. The certifier IMM plans to complete the assessment by summer 2014.
There are six species of lake fish being considered in the assessment: yellow perch, walleye (pickerel), rainbow smelt, lake white fish, white bass and white perch. In 2013, the allowable catch of the four largest commercial fisheries on Lake Erie is approximately 7,000 tonnes of rainbow smelt, 2,700 tonnes of yellow perch, 2,200 tonnes of walleye (pickerel) and 350 tonnes (in Ontario only) of lake white fish.
These six species are caught by vessels based in Ontario, Canada, using trawls, trap nets and gill nets and by vessels based in the U.S. portion of Lake Erie using trap nets. There are currently 23 units of the fishery being assessed by IMM against the MSC standard, taking into account the management systems in both jurisdictions, the stocks of the six species and the various gear types.
The Lake Erie fishery is managed cooperatively by Canada and the United States through the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC), a bilateral organization founded to develop research programs and recommend measures to permit the maximum sustained productivity of stocks of fish in the Great Lakes. Specifically, the Lake Erie Committee of GLFC includes fishery management agency representatives from Ontario, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan and is supported by national advisory bodies. The Lake Erie Committee establishes allowable catch levels for lake stocks and each jurisdiction then manages its respective fisheries. The commercial fishery in Ontario is managed using one of the longest running Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) programs in Canada.
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