The Money

"Economics alone demands that government do everything possible to maintain a viable sport fishery. Compared with an estimated $2.1 million economic impact of the five Illinois commercial operators, the Chicago sport perch fishery sustains and estimated value of $80 million". click here  online article dated April 1997

"The Lake Winnebago System is a significant natural resource in northeast Wisconsin. At 166,000 acres, it contains 17% of the state’s surface waters. It sustains a recreational fishery that annually contributes $234 million to the local economy." click here. The estimated population for the 5 counties surrounding Lake Winnebago: 518,789. Population estimate for the 5 counties near SE Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan perch reefs, 1,785,000.

The mismanagement of perch has cost and continues to cost this State dearly. While the majority of Wisconsin perch went into nets, legal and illegal, Illinois on the other hand gave most of their perch to their sportsmen. Many besides Illinois find that sport fishing benefits the local economies 10 to 40 times more then commercial fishing. As you can see, Illinois’s estimated $80 million is not because they caught more perch, but because of who caught them. Wisconsin took more perch with only a fraction of the economic benefits, twice as many perch if Green Bay perch are included. Does Illinois have that many more perch fishermen? True estimated average effort by Wisconsin sportsmen was half that for Illinois perch fishermen. But, during that same time, Illinois perch were about 30% heavier. This chase for quality shows up in Wisconsin in 2001-2002 when the 98 year class was present, larger perch in larger numbers, even though the limit was still 5, effort increased 6 fold from 1997.
Take a look and think, what would the economic and recreational possibilities be for Wisconsin, if the Legislature and WDNR would plan to maximize instead of minimize our perch fishery. What would be the possibilities be if the Legislature and WDNR demanded the best possible perch fishery in the future, instead of holding out for any perch fishery that commercials can participate in, no matter how poor?
How many lost jobs, how much lost tax revenue, how can the WDNR not afford to stock perch again? A Lake Michigan Salmon fishery built from stocking, a restored Green Bay Walleye and Northern Pike fishery, by stocking, an improving Musky fishery, by stocking. Why not use money from the USFWS Sport Fish Restoration Program, to stock perch and generate more money via a restored sport perch fishery?

Thanks to Dr. Wilberg for some of the data used to produce this chart. Green Bay totals from USGS and WDNR, estimates of number of perch per pound from previous WDNR documents. Estimated number of perch per pound GB 3.5 and Lake Michigan 3.