By Howard Meyerson
MONROE, MI — It’s no secret that the Lake Erie yellow perch fishery is not what it used to be. Only 10 million 2-year-olds now show up in the catch compared with peak years in the mid-1980s when 70 million to 80 million were caught.
Scientists studying the lake and fishery say there are numerous reasons why. They include changing water quality and clarity and the effects of recent warming trends. Yellow perch are a cool-water species.
Recent study findings, however, also suggest that Lake Erie’s booming white perch population has had more of an impact than previously thought. They prey voraciously on tiny yellow perch.
“The numbers are staggering,” said Stuart Ludsin, an associate professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State University. Ludsin has been studying the lake and its fishery for 20 years.
“There are between 46 million and 106 million predators in the western basin of Lake Erie. In just 24 hours they can consume between 32 million and 189 million yellow perch larvae. That is an enormous number.
“We don’t have that broken down by how much each eats, but I can tell you that white perch make up 90 percent of the predators. It is the most abundant predator in the lake. Period.” Continue reading