Nearly 200 Lake Erie charter fishing captains learned about harmful algal blooms, updated rules and regulations, and got some tips on improving their businesses at the 30th Annual Charter Captain Conference on Saturday, March 5 at the Bowling Green State University-Firelands Campus. Sponsored by Ohio Sea Grant, Ohio State University Extension, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife (ODNR), and the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association (LECBA), the conference provides captains with updated information to run their businesses more successfully. In fact, two-thirds of those who have historically taken part report increased profits due to information learned at the conference.
"That’s what we’re here for," says Tory Gabriel, Ohio Sea Grant Extension Educator, who moderates the conference. "We’re trying to make the charter businesses more successful because they are such an important part of our regional economy. By helping them, we’re helping Lake Erie."
Charter fishing businesses contribute almost $24 million to Ohio’s economy through food, lodging, shopping, and charter fees.
Sean Insley, a conservation officer with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, clarified the rules for captains traveling into Canadian waters to fish. LECBA President Rick Unger had requested that an Ontario officer speak because many captains had talked about their need for information about fishing in Canadian waters. Insley’s presentation answered some frequently asked questions compiled from captains, and he held a Q&A session.
"Many captains said it was a great conference and that they left with all their questions answered," Gabriel says. "I’m sure a big part of that is thanks to Sean."
Jeff Tyson of ODNR presented an outlook for the upcoming fishing season and the agency’s Gino Barna discussed enforcement of Ohio’s laws on the lake, including success stories of busting poachers during the previous season. Attendees also heard policy advice from Rick Nemecek of the Nemecek Insurance Agency of Port Clinton.
Ohio Sea Grant Researcher Dr. Doug Kane spoke about harmful algal blooms and their effect on fishing and Ohio Sea Grant Extension Specialist Dave Kelch spoke about the potential threat of Asian carp to Lake Erie’s fishery.
"I think the conference is the finest program of its type" Unger says. "Our captains leave better prepared to do their job. The camaraderie we get from meeting there and the information that we receive from the speakers is invaluable. I like that we have Ohio Sea Grant just a phone call away and if we need a researcher to speak on a specific topic, they can arrange that for us."
Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant program is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 32 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. For information on Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu .
Tory Gabriel, Ohio Sea Grant Extension Educator, 419.898.3631, firstname.lastname@example.org .