The Mismanagement

Under quota:
- Commercial perch fishing season becomes 30% longer. Perch recruitment stops just as quota fishing starts.
- Quota allows the largest, mostly female perch can be targeted, since the season can’t be closed by other fishers. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission stated in 2006, “Yellow perch populations declined precipitously during the mid-1990s, due to minimal recruitment after 1988". Note how the largest mesh nets ever to appear for perch, appear in 1989, to only disappear when the large perch are gone.
- Fishing is possible and very profitable when the females, congregate on or near the reefs, right before and during spawning.
- From Wilberg, “BecauseWisconsin first implemented a commercial quota for yellow perch in the summer of 1989, there had been less incentive for commercial fishermen to underreport before then”.
- From CanAm, in words of another defendant fisher, “This (illegal fish trade) is bigger then you think, almost everyone cheats on their quotas and some cheat all the time. Things just got out of hand, we all got greedy”.
- Results: perch population plummets, as does the number of female perch found in the graded mesh surveys, reaching a bottom of only 5% the final year of commercial fishing. Dr. Wilberg's Estimates.    WDNR's Estimates   Estimated Illegal Perch Harvest

“In the past, studies have shown that a low population of perch is still able to produce a large number of eggs”. Possible dangerous thinking by DNR personal.
- Jan. 1993 the Graded mesh survey found that the percent of females was down to only 14% of population.
AND
- 1993 CanAm Sting comes to closure, 400,000+ lbs. of illegal perch were admittedly taken and no mention of overharvest is mentioned or calculated in the following
YET
- April 1993, DNR perch quota analysis finds, “In short, everything has proceeded as planned. The only potential problem is the apparent series of weak yellow perch year classes from 1990-1992”. WHY, was this analysis done, for the public, sportsmen, for the health of the fishery? No, as stated, "We have reviewed the yellow perch quota on approximately the proposed two-year interval being suggested by the Commercial fishing Work Group". Why every two years, so that quotas for commercials can be raised if too many perch are present?
- “COTFMA representative Tom Gorenflo later referenced Vogelsang's remarks with the comment, ‘Harvest is not the problem. The law enforcement report this morning placed the blame on illegal commercial harvest. This is very misleading.' Interestingly, some resource managers agreed with him”. Read at Bottom

It would appear that some within the WDNR were unconcerned as to the potential dangers of overfishing by commercials? Why, because they thought that a few perch would always be able to produce large number of eggs? Because, commercial fishermen are too buddy-buddy with some within the DNR or Legislature? Because commercials help with studies? Will we ever know?
The same invasives present in Lake Erie are in Lake Michigan, yet Lake Erie has a great sport fishery, how is that possible, it’s obvious to me, the only difference lies in management.
It would appear that the Zebra and Quagga Mussels, have caught the WDNR and their outdated management theories and favoritism towards commercials, unawares. While in the past, overfishing of perch, as in the early 60’s, could take place with a recovery started by a few perch left or stocked, that is no longer possible, as YOY perch no longer survive in the numbers that they did 30 years ago. The new reality is that it will take large numbers of adult perch to have enough young perch survive to replace sport caught or natural depletion and that spells the end of not only commercial perch fishing but quite possibly other species as well. The DNR mismanaged the perch fishery in the early 60’s and early 90’s by allowing and maybe even encouraging overfishing by commercial fishermen. The DNR failed to follow the law, to manage the fishery for the greater good, for a healthy fishery, for the public, but instead managed it for a few commercial fishermen, and the Legislature knew or encouraged this, but certainly never demanded it be stopped as required by their own laws.