Updated fisheries plan reflects progress on Lake Superior

Media contact: Don Schreiner, DNR area fisheries supervisor, (218) 525-0853.

November 28, 2006

A decade of progress in rehabilitating Lake Superior's wild lake trout, lake herring and salmon populations is reflected in the final version of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Lake Superior fisheries management plan, now available in hard copy and online.

Populations of wild lake trout, having rebounded from near devastation by sea lamprey, are once again found throughout the entire lake. In the past decade, the proportion of wild lake trout harvested by sport anglers has doubled. Moreover, populations of introduced salmon species such as coho and Chinook are now self-sustaining. Lake herring, an important food source for salmon and lake trout, have increased significantly since the mid 1980s.

The plan, which will guide fisheries management on Minnesota's portion of Lake Superior, includes proposals to discontinue lake trout stocking in a portion of the lake, allow an increase in regulated commercial harvest of lake herring, a 50 percent reduction in commercial fishing licenses and extending the lake trout sport fishing season through the first weekend in October.

"The plan reflects the major progress achieved in the rehabilitation of the Lake Superior fishery over the last 10 years," says Don Schreiner, Lake Superior Fisheries Supervisor at French River. "Wild lake trout have increased, lake herring continue to rebound and many intentionally introduced species like Chinook and coho salmon are now self-sustaining."

Additional changes proposed in the plan include a discontinuation of Chinook salmon stocking, simplifying stream angling regulations and an increased emphasis on habitat and watershed protection and rehabilitation.

The final plan does not include a proposal for steps that that could have led to a limited commercial lake trout fishery in the northernmost portion of the lake. "The Department recognizes the century-old traditions of commercial fishing on Lake Superior and that the population of lake trout in the northernmost portion of the lake could biologically sustain the proposed increase in harvest," said Ron Payer, DNR section of fisheries management chief. "However, based on the recently proposed federal budget cuts in sea lamprey control, the highly productive sport fishery, and the statewide philosophy of curtailing commercial netting for game fish, the DNR has decided at this time not to implement the proposed expansion of lake trout assessment netting."

The plan was written based on comments and suggestions by interested citizens, DNR fisheries staff, and the Lake Superior Advisory Group comprised of representatives from fishing groups, commercial fishing operators, environmental groups, Native American Bands, local units of government and other interested organizations and individuals.

"The Lake Superior Advisory Group was instrumental in working together to develop the new Lake Superior management plan and should be commended for the time and effort they put into the process," Schreiner says. "As is often the case, each representative had a somewhat different view on how the fishery should be managed, however, the debates that occurred made for a better plan overall."

The DNR Section of Fisheries Management will begin to implement some parts of the plan immediately, while others will take time to develop. As the DNR acquires new information on the Lake Superior fishery, fisheries managers will meet with interested citizens to discuss what future changes might be necessary.

Copies of the plan are available at:

  • Lake Superior Area Fisheries Office, 5351 North Shore Drive, Duluth, MN 55804 (218) 525-0853

 

 

  • Lake Superior Management Plan Process