While Michigan’s total harvest of fish in 2015 was nearly identical to 2014, the fishery’s estimated wholesale value was down nearly 7 percent, according to data from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Tom Goniea, commercial fisheries biologist at the Michigan DNR, says the decrease in the fishery’s value can be attributed to a nearly 13 percent decline in the wholesale price of lake whitefish.
“The price of whitefish had doubled from 2010 to 2014, so it’s not surprising that there was a slight reduction last year,” Goniea says. “Regardless, the price per pound still remained incredibly lucrative in 2015 from a historical perspective.”
Lake whitefish accounted for nearly 70 percent of the state-licensed harvest by pounds and nearly 90 percent of the gross value in 2015.
Combined, the state-licensed commercial fishery caught 3.4 million pounds of fish with an estimated wholesale dockside value of more than $5.4 million prior to processing, marketing, and retail sales.
Goniea says participation in the fishery in 2015 remained the same compared to 2014, with 22 businesses participating. Twelve of these businesses fished in Lake Huron, five in Lake Michigan, three in Lake Superior, and two in Lake Erie. He says together, these businesses added an estimated $25 million to the state’s economy and about 300 fishing and fishing-related jobs.
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