The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced this week that the agency will initiate an external review of Mille Lacs Lake walleye management and harvest strategy. The review is part of the scientific process of adaptive fisheries management and will help to increase transparency with the public.
“Mille Lacs Lake issues are complex, and peer review is an important component of sound science,” said Don Pereira, DNR fisheries chief.
Pereira said the review will cover several elements, including:
- Evaluation of current management objectives.
- Review of alternative management approaches.
- Analysis of the feasibility and likely outcomes from a change in management strategy.
- Evaluation of the current field assessment methodologies such as fall gillnet surveys, population estimates and creel surveys.
Pereira also said the DNR will provide any data and other fisheries management information needed for a proper, thorough and accurate review by this external review team.
However, DNR staff will not be involved with this independent review by fisheries experts from across the Great Lakes basin. Dr. Chris Vandergoot of the U.S. Geological Survey, Lake Erie Biological Station, is the lead.
A member of the external review team will meet with Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee members later this summer to document the committee’s concerns, questions and issues it wants the review to address.
In addition to the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee, the DNR is seeking the involvement of the Fisheries Technical Committee and the eight Chippewa bands that have rights to harvest fish from the lake under the 1837 Treaty.
“We’re eager to see the results,” Pereira said. “The review will be complete sometime next winter. Having more people review will add to everyone’s understanding of the lake and options for the future.”