Lake Superior cisco emergency rule moves forward, work continues on lake trout rule development

Discussion in 'Outdoor News' started by Wisconsin DNR News, Aug 9, 2016.

  1. By Northwest Region August 9, 2016

    Contact(s): Terry Margenau, DNR Lake Superior fisheries manager, 715-779-4035,[email protected]; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084,[email protected]

    ASHLAND, Wis. - An emergency rule designed to provide sustainable commercial harvests while rebuilding populations of Lake Superior cisco - also known as lake herring - has gained approval from the Wisconsin Natural Resources board.

    Cisco hold significant commercial value and also represent a key link in the Lake Superior food chain, eating zooplankton and serving as prey for lake trout. Cisco eggs serve as a primary food source for whitefish - another valuable commercial and recreational species. They are harvested for commercial, recreational and subsistence purposes by state licensees, members of the Bad River and Red Cliff bands of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and some recreational anglers.

    Terry Margenau, DNR Lake Superior fisheries supervisor, said cisco may be sold fresh or smoked but their roe holds the greatest value and is sold in Scandinavian countries as "bluefin caviar." Cisco are vulnerable to over-harvest because they are most valuable and also easiest to catch during fall spawning when they congregate in easily accessible spawning grounds in Wisconsin waters.

    The emergency rule approved by the board:

    • Establishes the total allowable cisco harvest at 7.5 percent of the cisco biomass or 15 percent of the adult population and allocates equal portions among the 10 state commercial licenses for Lake Superior;
    • Provides an allocation to the state, which will split its quota among various user groups including recreational anglers and researchers; and
    • Applies daily phone reporting requirements from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 for commercial licensees upon harvesting 70 percent or more of their individual quotas.

    The rule was developed with extensive input from stakeholders and will be implemented following approval by Gov. Scott Walker. The emergency rule is expected to have minimal economic impact because commercial license holders will be able to harvest at or near current levels. However it is important to have the rule and an upcoming permanent rule in place to allow DNR to reduce or increase the harvest limit based on future assessments of cisco populations.

    In addition to the work on cisco, DNR continues to study Lake Superior lake trout populations. The current emergency rule provides for a daily bag limit of three lake trout with certain size limits in key recreational areas, Margenau said. In informational comments to the Natural Resources board, Margenau indicated the program is developing an emergency rule to continue protecting the resource after the current rule expires and until a permanent rule can be put in place to ensure a sustainable fishery.

    For more information about the public meetings or on management of the Lake Superior fishery, search the DNR website,, for "Lake Superior fisheries management."

    Last Revised: Tuesday, August 09, 2016