OAK HARBOR, OHIO – Anglers can again help Lake Erie fishery managers by scanning any yellow perch they catch in 2017 for microchips as part of a research study on fish behavior, migration, population size and death rate.
The project, which is in its final year, is a joint effort among the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife, U.S. Geological Survey, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Ohio Sea Grant.
In 2016, more than 1 million angler-caught yellow perch were scanned, said Carey Knight, fisheries biologist with the ODNR Division of Wildlife, including more than 140,000 at various cleaning houses.
“We reached out to more anglers and increased scanning at cleaning houses twofold,” Knight said.
Ohio Sea Grant supported the project by producing a video public service announcement, a handout and a map of scanning stations.
Anglers simply take their catch of yellow perch to one of the scanning facilities and pass their coolers through the scanner to check for microchips. There is no need to remove fish, and the process takes just a few minutes.
The microchips, called PIT tags, are about the size of a grain of rice and work similar to a pet microchip. Because of their small size, it is impossible to tell if a fish is tagged without scanning it. The part of the fish containing the tag is removed as a part of normal cleaning, so tagged fish are safe to eat.
Recapturing previously tagged yellow perch is helping fisheries biologists understand the movements of yellow perch and better manage the Lake Erie yellow perch fishery.
More than 4,300 yellow perch were tagged in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Scanners on commercial trap net boats and at cleaning houses have scanned more than 5 million fish so far. Preliminary results of the study show that yellow perch tend to stick together in groups and stay within a limited area of Lake Erie, Knight said.
Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant College Program is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 33 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. For more information, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu.
For more information, contact:
Carey Knight, Fisheries Biologist
ODNR Division of Wildlife
Patrick Kocovsky, Fishery Biologist
USGS Lake Erie Biological Station
Tory Gabriel, Fisheries Outreach Coordinator & Extension Program Leader
Ohio Sea Grant