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Great Lakes: Lake Whitefish Monitoring

A whitefish lays on a wood exam table

Great Lakes: Lake Whitefish Monitoring

Whitefish monitoring

The state shares management authority and works cooperatively with tribes to monitor lake whitefish populations and commercial fisheries in many areas of Michigan’s Great Lakes. Both state-licensed and tribal commercial fishers pursue lake whitefish, and monitoring these fisheries is an important part of managing for healthy, self-sustaining populations.

Common monitoring practices

  • Commercial catches are regularly sampled throughout the fishing season (primarily April–December) by both state and tribal resource agencies. Sampling includes taking weight, length and structures for aging, plus assessing condition, sex, maturity and presence of sea lamprey wounds. This collected data is used in statistical models to estimate abundance, assess overall population trends, and establish agreed upon safe harvest limits for lake whitefish.
  • The state and tribes also work with a variety of other partners, including universities and federal resource agencies, to conduct fishery-independent surveys and valuable research on early life-history stages. Data from these surveys can be used to monitor recruitment trends in lake whitefish populations and inform management.
  • The State and Tribes also regularly conduct targeted larval beach seining, which provides information on lake whitefish genetics, population structure and growth under different environmental conditions.

Collectively, these monitoring practices provide valuable insights into all the processes driving lake whitefish abundance and allow fishery managers to ensure the species will be present for future generations.


For more information, please contact Ben Rook.