Optimal Effort Allocation in a Bi-National, Multi-Jurisdiction Assessment Program: An Example From Lake Erie's Coldwater Fish Community

Wednesday, September 11, 2013: 2:20 PM
White Oak (The Marriott Little Rock)
Mark Rogers , Lake Erie Biological Station, USGS Great Lakes Science Center, Sandusky, OH
James L. Markham , Lake Erie Research Unit, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Dunkirk, NY
Larry Witzel , Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Port Dover, ON, Canada
Chuck Murray , Lake Erie Research Unit, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Fairview, PA
A balanced coldwater fish community in Lake Erie’s eastern basin is an endorsed goal of The Lake Erie Committee, which was established under the Joint Strategic Plan for Management of Great Lakes Fisheries.  Monitoring and assessment for this Fish Community Objective is charged to a bi-national, multi-jurisdictional team composed of federal, state, and provincial biologists.  Lake Erie’s assessment protocol was adopted in 1986 and followed a design for Lake Ontario.  Spatially, the design encompasses eight sampling units within Ontario, Pennsylvania, and New York waters.  Prescribed sampling effort calls for equal effort among sampling units and abundance metrics are weighted by surface area of coldwater habitat within each unit.  We used the 25+ year time series to evaluate trade-offs in varying sampling unit effort on critical metrics (e.g., species-specific catch-per-effort) to the annual assessment.  Results suggested that modifications to the standard operating procedure by reducing prescribed effort could be justified, but reductions were not always the same among jurisdictions, or years, and precision in some metrics may be reduced.  This evaluation was critical for determining trade-offs associated with reducing assessment effort in a period of agency budget constraints and staffing limitations and highlighted the complexity of compiling inter-agency data for large-scale community assessments.