The state-licensed commercial fish harvest in Michigan was about the same in 2015 compared to 2014.
Unfortunately, a decline in wholesale prices decreased the value of the fish caught. That’s what the 2015 commercial fish harvest data released by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources shows.
In 2015, state-licensed commercial fishermen caught more than 3.4 million pounds of fish with a dockside value of $5.4 million.
The DNR says the catch total was almost identical to the 2014 total. However, the dockside value went down 7 percent, mostly due to a 12.5 percent decrease in the wholesale price of lake whitefish.
“Lake whitefish is by far the most important commercial fish species in the Great Lakes in terms of both harvest and value, so annual statistics can move quite a bit based on it,” said Tom Goniea, DNR commercial fisheries biologist. “The price of whitefish had doubled from 2010 to 2014, so it’s not surprising that there was a slight reduction last year. Regardless, the price per pound still remained incredibly lucrative in 2015 from a historical perspective.”
How important is lake whitefish to the commercial fish harvest in Michigan? The DNR says the species made up 66 percent of the 2015 overall harvest in terms of pounds and 88 percent of the gross monetary value.
For 2015, the state issue 50 licenses. Of those, 22 businesses fished 32 of the licenses. In Lake Huron, 12 businesses fished, while five did in Lake Michigan, three in Lake Superior and two in Lake Erie.
The full report on Michigan’s commercial fish harvest can be found online.