2013 state-licensed commercial fishing up more than 35 percent in value

Active state-licensed commercial fishery added roughly $25 million to Michigan economy.
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Press Release

April 15, 2014

Contact: Tom Goniea, 517-284-5830 or Ed Golder, 517-284-5815

State-licensed commercial fishing up more than 35 percent in value over 2012

The Department of Natural Resources' Fisheries Division recently released data from its 2013 state-licensed commercial fishing season. Combined, the state-licensed commercial fishery caught more than 3.6 million pounds of fish with an estimated wholesale dockside value of roughly $5.53 million prior to processing, marketing and retail sales.

The state’s total harvest was about 150,000 pounds less than in 2012 due to lower reported catches of non-native common carp in Lake Erie. However, the fishery’s estimated gross dockside value was up $1.44 million (an increase of 35.2 percent). The increase in value can be attributed mostly to a dramatic 30-percent increase in the wholesale price of lake whitefish.

“Lake whitefish are great table fare and by far the most important commercial fish species in the Great Lakes,” said Tom Goniea, DNR commercial fisheries biologist. “They have accounted for more than 67 percent of the state-licensed harvest by weight and 84 percent by gross value during the last decade. The price of whitefish has been on the rise the last several years, and an increase in demand drove the price even higher in 2013 – a bit of a pleasant surprise for commercial fishers.”

Participation in the fishery in 2013 remained constant from the previous year. Michigan’s 31 active state-licensed commercial licenses are owned and operated by 20 separate businesses. Eleven of these businesses fished in Lake Huron, five in Lake Michigan, three in Lake Superior and one in Lake Erie. Together, these businesses added an estimated $25 million to Michigan’s economy and approximately 300 fishing and fishing-related jobs.

A full breakdown of the harvest and dockside value of the 2013 state-licensed commercial fishery, including details for each individual lake, is available online. Visit www.michigan.gov/fishing and then click on “Managing Michigan’s Fisheries” and scroll down to "Commercial Fish Management and General Information."

Also available there are an in-depth description of Michigan’s commercial fishery, photos of the fishers in action and maps of the Great Lakes with recent commercial fishing activity, as well as links to recipes and locations where Michigan fish can be purchased.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.