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Messages - Tory Gabriel, Ohio Sea Grant

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This came across my e-mail and I thought I'd share it here.  Please pass along to others who could also use it.  This video talks about zebra mussels, but the clean/drain/dry procedures are effective for many potential invaders.  One of those near to us is Hydrilla, which is gaining a substantial foothold in the Ohio River.  Please do your part to prevent the spread!

Silent Invaders- Boat Washing Video

Hello jeffryg,

Good question.  As you probably know, flooding has been helping the Asian Carps spread for years now, so it is of some concern.  There have been barrier fences places in some strategic locations specifically to guard against this:
Des Plaines River
Eagle Marsh (Wabash River)

A recent news video report on this very topic: Asian Carps Maddow Show

Unfortunately, these projects are costly and take time to plan and complete, so it's something that requires some foresight.  These areas that have the fence protections have been identified as the most likely areas of potential spread due to flooding. 

The Great Lakes Fisheries Commission's Lake Erie Committee announced today the 2013 TACs (Total Allowable Catch) for Lake Erie.

The walleye TAC is 3.356 million fish, a 4% decrease from 2012's TAC of 3.487 million fish.   Based upon water surface area in lake management units, Ohio's share will be 1.715 million walleye.  Ontario's quota will be 1.445 million walleye and 196,000 for Michigan.

The 2013 yellow perch TAC is 12.237 million pounds, an 10% decrease from the 2012 TAC. These have been divided among management units (MU) as follows:

MU 1 - 1.800 million lb
MU 2 - 4.000 million lb
MU 3 – 5.600 million lb
MU 4 - 0.837 million lb

These are the same as last year, except for the decrease in MU 3.  The figure below illustrates the yellow perch management units and how individual TAC's are shared among jurisdictions.

Note that this TAC information is now analyzed by the ODNR/Division of Wildlife, who will use it to set the Ohio bag limits and commercial quotas in the coming weeks.   

Lake Erie Hot Topics / Re: Walleye estimates
« on: 03/28/13, 06:28 »
Hi Bob,

I'm sitting at the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Lake Erie Committee meetings right now.  The 2013 projected age 2+ walleye estimate is 17.736 million fish.  For comparison, the 2012 estimate was 22.183 million fish. 

It's not on the website yet, but the report with all the numbers and statistical details will be posted soon at

Great!  You're welcome. 

Interesting, Todd. It shows up for me.  There should be a link that you can click on and download the pdf. Maybe it's an issue with your internet browser pop-up blocker, or anti-virus software? 

Let's try this, I searched on google for "USACE public notice Sandusky Harbor" and it was the first thing to pop up on a link through the ODNR website.  That link is:

Sorry for the inconvenience, hopefully this one works for you. 

Just FYI- attached is a notice from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding dredging and open lake disposal.  Directions for commenting on the project are found in the notice. 


Please see below for a message from Dr. Jeff Reutter, our Ohio Sea Grant director.  We have recently received some unfortunate news regarding our standing in the Governor’s Budget. 

If you’d like to express your feelings on this topic, the best course of action would be to contact your state legislators.  You can find contact information for them at

As always, we thank you for your support.  Feel free to share this information with others who may be interested.  Have a great weekend. 

Some additional information you may think about and share:
1) Lake Erie is socially, economically and environmentally significant to the region, the nation and the planet.
2) Lake Erie is a multi-use resource that requires restoration, wise utilization and protection for the current generation and for future generations.
3) Lake Erie is an economic, social and environmental engine for the region providing jobs and career opportunities for a vibrant sustainable future.
4) Investments in Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab Lake Erie education, outreach and research will empower citizens to make informed decisions that will help keep Lake Erie and the Great Lakes great!
5) Our dedicated, enthusiastic and hard-working Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab staff provide the university based scientific research information that will empower our local communities to grow and thrive.
6) We have the Ohio State University connections, diverse networking, and extensive collaborations necessary to tackle the numerous issues facing Lake Erie.
7) Our track record of 30 plus years of education, outreach, leadership and service to the Lake Erie community uniquely qualify Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab to provide Lake Erie programming to coastal clientele.
8) Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab’s local community based education and training developed on locally identified needs is targeted for achieving the best outcomes.
9) Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab have a diverse set of skilled credible educators and researchers that bring a wide set of talent and training to bear on the issues impacting the Lake Erie.
10) Individual actions can, do and will make a difference for the betterment of our great Lake Erie.

I am disappointed to report that the funding for Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab were zeroed out of the Governor's Budget.  I view this as a failure on my part to adequately explain to elected officials about the value and impact of the work we do.  I am attempting to correct that shortfall on my part now in the hopes that the State Legislature will restore our funding.  We have had a line item in the State Budget every year since 1983.  Our state funding peaked in 1999 at just over $300,000 per year and currently stands at $285,000 per year.  The National Sea Grant College Program is part of NOAA and the federal funding that we receive from NOAA requires of non-federal match of $1 non-federal dollar per $2 federal dollars. Therefore, the state investment in the program buys a minimum of almost $600,000 federal dollars.  We then strive to leverage these funds even further to maximize the benefit Ohio receives from the program and typically have been able to produce better than $15 per dollar invested by the state in our line item.

This state funding, while not a huge amount, is critically important to the operation and financial stability of Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab.  It literally provides support to everything we do from our research, education, and outreach in Ohio Sea Grant to our teaching of courses, training students,  and leading workshops, field trips, and conferences at Stone Lab.  On the 30th anniversary of our first state funding, this cut comes at a very disappointing time as the program has never been better and the benefits that we are providing to the state, region, and country have never been greater.
•   In 2012, we set a record for the number of students taking our courses at Stone Lab and the number of scientists using our research facilities to solve problems relating to nutrient loading and harmful algal blooms, invasive species, endangered species, sport fishing, and ecosystem restoration has never been higher.  Furthermore, while Sea Grant and Stone Lab are part of The Ohio State University, the students and faculty in our courses come from all over the state and country, and w have supported grants at over 20 Ohio colleges and universities.
•   The National Sea Grant College Program just completed their review of the 32 Sea Grant programs in the country (there is a Sea Grant program in every coastal state, including the Great Lakes) and Ohio Sea Grant was ranked as one of the top programs in the country far exceeding the expectations they place on us.
•   Some of our current projects are working to enhance coastal economic development to restore our economy, prevent harmful algal blooms and thereby protect human health without harming agricultural production, eliminate beach closures, enhance the impact of tourism, improve science education in our schools, improve teacher preparedness, increase coastal property values, mitigate the impacts of climate change, improve water quality, and much more.
•   In 2011 we coordinated 8 research projects involving 15 scientists form 11 universities and agencies in the US and Canada and submitted a summary report outlining steps needed to solve the harmful algal bloom problem.
•   We are currently in the process of coordinating the development of a multi-university and agency monitoring program for Lake Erie.
•   We are currently leading the state committee that is developing the nutrient loading targets for Lake Erie to solve the harmful algal bloom problem.
•   We have upgraded our research and teaching facilities at Stone Lab to accommodate the increased need for solutions to problems such as asian carp, harmful algal bloom, nutrient loading, sedimentation, invasive species, toxic substances, etc.
•   We have played and instrumental role in the cleanup of Ashtabula Harbor.
•   We are leading the Clean Marina Program and the Clean Boater Program for Ohio.
•   Our boat shrink-wrap recycling program is benefitting the environment, marinas along Lake Erie, and a business in Marrieta.
•   We continue to support work to enhance sport and charter fishing opportunities on Lake Erie, protect and restore the Lake Erie ecosystem, enhance the impact of boating on tourism on Lake Erie, and protect human health. 
•   Approximately 20,000 people per year now visit our facilities at Stone Lab.
Please don't hesitate to contact me if you need more information.


Jeffrey M. Reutter, Ph.D., Director
Ohio Sea Grant College Program
F.T. Stone Laboratory
Center for Lake Erie Area Research (CLEAR) and the
Great Lakes Aquatic Ecosystem Research Consortium (GLAERC)

The Ohio State University
Area 100 Research Center
1314 Kinnear Rd., Columbus, Ohio 43212
t: (614) 292-8949 | f: (614) 292-4364 |

Lake Erie Hot Topics / Re: Lake Erie Water Levels
« on: 02/12/13, 09:44 »
Hi Joe,

The water level on Lake Erie has both gone up, and down since the structure was built in 1957. In fact, after installed in 1957 the water levels declined and were actually lower than the installation date for almost a decade, followed by a period of above average water levels which we're on the downside of now.  This is natural variation due to environmental factors and is typical of the 30-year cycles we've seen on the Lake since the data has been recorded. You can see the trends on the attached graph since 1918, and it's very unlikely the structure had an effect on water levels.  It's really difficult to stop that much water from flowing downhill, and especially with a structure that doesn't span the entire river.

And from the International Niagara Board of Control:
"Operation of this structure does not change the total flow of the Niagara River and has no measurable effect on Lake Erie water levels."

That structure just physically can't control the levels on Lake Erie, and wasn't built to do so. 

Lake Erie Hot Topics / Re: Lake Erie Water Levels
« on: 02/06/13, 14:51 »
Hi Joe,

The International Control Structure on the Niagara River is not used to control the level of Lake Erie, but actually to control the spread of the flow over the Falls in targeted areas through the use of 18 sluice gates.  Essentially, it's to keep the Falls scenic.  From the International Niagara Board of Control:
"The International Niagara Control Works is a structure extending about 0.8 kilometre (0.5 mile) into the river from the Canadian shore at the downstream end of the Chippawa-Grass Island Pool. Its 18 sluice gates allow for precise changes in the flow over the Falls and adjustments to the water level in the Chippawa-Grass Island Pool, where water is diverted for hydroelectric power production."

You can see a picture of the structure on the Ontario Power Generation website (also attached). Note that it does not even span the entire river, just the part upstream of the scenic falls area. 

Also, to reiterate from my previous post, Lake Erie water levels are not controlled by structures on the Niagara River.  A couple of excerpts from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources:

Lake Erie Water Levels
"Only two of the Great Lakes, Superior and Ontario, could be described as having structures on them that specifically control the outflow of water. The St. Mary's River and the St. Lawrence River, outlets of Lakes Superior and Ontario respectively, have structures to regulate lake outflow for flood control and navigation purposes; but they are not designed for regulation of lake levels, which, as we have shown, are dependent upon many other, mostly natural factors. The impact of regulation on Lake Superior is to raise that lake’s level about four tenths of a foot, with no effect on the levels of lower lakes. The controls on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River obviously can have no effect on Lake Erie because they are at least 325-feet lower than Lake Erie."

and from the related Frequently Asked Questions
"Q. Can we control Lake Erie water levels?

A. No. A common urban legend is that there are water-level-control structures located on the Niagara River designed to control Lake Erie water levels; however, no such controls exist. Only Lake Superior and Lake Ontario have water-level-control structures, and regulation of these lakes is governed by treaty with Canada."

So, you're correct that the controls on the Niagara River are controlled by man, it's just that those controls are not designed to control the water level of Lake Erie. 

Lake Erie Hot Topics / Re: Teenaged walleye....
« on: 01/18/13, 13:33 »
The information Sarah posted about fecundity/fertility as related to age is a widely acknowledged principle in fisheries science. However, it may not necessarily transfer to all species and all situations.  I was at a recent meeting with some ODNR-DOW fisheries folks and Lake Erie researchers, and this topic came up.  There was some research done by the Ohio State University Aquatic Ecology Lab several years back that seemed to show that the old "hawg" walleyes in Lake Erie may actually maintain their fertility throughout their life span.  And that could also be seen as a good thing, especially now that a big portion of our current walleye population are those old trophy fish. Hopefully this spring proves friendly to the larval walleyes and we get another bumper crop like 2003, many with trophy genetics. 

Lake Erie Hot Topics / Re: Lake Erie Water Levels
« on: 11/06/12, 09:15 »
Hi Larry,

You're right, the Lake Erie water level has been relatively low this fall.  In fact we are currently 6 inches lower than the long-term average for November (records since 1918) and 40 inches below the highest monthly average November level set in 1986. Remarkably this is still 25 inches above the lowest average water level for November on record (in 1934).  Check out this site for Great Lakes water level data from the US Army Corps of Engineers.  We are currently 2 inches lower than we were a month ago and 16 inches lower than we were on 2 November 2011.  The lake is expected to drop another 2 inches by 2 December 2012.  Click here to see it in a chart.  And here is a chart for the historical data 1918-2011

You're also right that the water levels have more to do with environmental conditions than those influenced by man.  Roughly 80% of Lake Erie's water is coming from the Detroit River, which is coming from the Upper Great Lakes.  If you refer back to that link, you'll see Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron are all very near historic lows.  Mild winters with little snow provide less melt water, dry spring and summer seasons provide less water, and low winter ice cover increases evaporation rates as do hot spring and summer temperatures. These effects are felt throughout the Great Lakes Basin. 

So to answer your question, man has very little direct influence on Lake Erie water levels. It's almost entirely influenced by environmental factors. Additionally there is no water level control structure in place on the Niagara River (Lake Erie's outflow) with the capability to control Lake Erie water levels, therefore the rumor you heard was in fact just a rumor.

Thanks for the question!


This is an interesting link from NOAA/GLERL.  A visualization tool showing the latest current patterns and strengths in the Great Lakes.  Enjoy!

Great Lakes Surface Currents Map

Lake Erie Hot Topics / Re: Spawning Success
« on: 09/21/12, 07:46 »
Hi Bob,

We're still waiting on the basin wide estimates as well.  Ontario is still completing their surveys.  Ohio's August bottom trawls are only a portion, but those results were below average at two young of year walleyes per hectare.  That's similar to the numbers seen in 2008, 2009, and 2011.  For comparison, average is ~9 fish per hectare.    An average hatch will usually contribute 10 million or so age-2 fish to the population, whereas the 2008 and 2009 hatches contributed between three and four million age-2 fish each. 

So, not great news as of now although it could be worse. There's some data that long, cold winters with lots of ice cover can be a factor in a good hatch the following spring, and we had none of that this past winter.  Folks were hopeful that the relatively calm spring would give them a boost, but apparently that wasn't enough to offset the many other variables that come in to play here. 

I'll be interested to see how it all shakes out once the data comes in from the Ontario side. 

is about to be signed into law at 2pm today.  You can even watch it on the web @

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