Historic Catches of Economically Important Fish (Lake Sturgeon) in Lake Erie, NY from the 1920s, 30s, and 50s

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Gulliksen, Shane
Skelton, Danny
The NYS DEC Lake Erie Fisheries Unit has collected and archived historical commercial fisheries data from 1929 through present day. Prior to this project all data was in paper form. The Lake Erie historical database is a joint funded MOU (memorandum of understanding) between the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Environmental Science at SUNY Cobleskill and the NYS DEC Bureau of Fisheries. The goal of this project is to catalog Lake Erie historical commercial fisheries data into an Access database for efficient manipulation and visualization of the fisheries data in the digital environment. We used this Access database to create GIS maps illustrating distribution and commercial landings of a subset of species within Lake Erie from the 1920s, 30s, and 50s. Figures for economically important species were created for blue pike, walleye, lake whitefish, cisco, and lake sturgeon. Distributions contracted and landings declined for these important fish into the 1950s. Additionally, blue pike were approaching extirpation by the 1950s.