The U.S. Geological Survey and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources are seeking help from Lake Erie anglers and commercial fishermen as they kick off a five-year, fish-tagging effort to better understand the movement of yellow perch in Lake Erie.
Biologists are tagging adult yellow perch with tiny devices called Passive Integrated Transponders (PIT tags) to track fish migration.
The agencies are asking anglers and commercial fishermen to cooperate by making caught yellow perch available for scanning.
Through the spring, summer and fall fishing seasons, biologists involved in the study will frequent Lake Erie recreational access points such as boat ramps and fish-cleaning stations, in order to interview anglers and scan the fish.
Commercial fishermen will be contacted based on the information they report to the state’s catch-reporting system.
PIT tags are a miniaturized version of the electronic toll-collection technology used on toll roads. Each tag is about the size of a grain of rice and is uniquely coded per specific fish.
It is placed in an inedible portion of the fish so it does not affect the ability of anglers to eat the fish.
The scanning process takes only a few seconds per cooler or 100-pound fish box that can hold 300 to 400 fish, officials said.
Angler interviews or creel surveys are “crucial” to collecting data because it is impossible to tell if a fish is tagged without scanning it, officials said.
“We are excited to be working with the ODNR to enhance scientific information on fish movement patterns,” said Dr. Richard Kraus, chief of the USGS Lake Erie Biological Station in Sandusky, in a statement.
He added, “Our Canadian partners in the Ontario Ministry of Natural resources are also tagging yellow perch with PIT tags, so there will be mutual benefits for both countries with the potential to detect north-south movements.”
There is a lack of information on yellow perch movements, said Jeff Tyson, administrator of the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Lake Erie program.
Tagging will be done from Ohio’s 43-foot research vessel, Grandon, with assistance from other smaller agency vessels. That work began this week.
Yellow perch numbers have been in decline in Lake Erie, especially in the lake’s shallow Western Basin.
The 2013 yellow perch quota for Ohio’s sport and commercial fishermen is nearly 4.9 million pounds. Ontario was allocated nearly 6 million pounds of yellow perch.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or email@example.com