Experts take whitefish’s climatic prospects to a global audience

Abigail Lynch and Bill Taylor in Mondsee, Austria

Oct. 14, 2011

MONDSEE, Austria -- Two MSU researchers exported their whitefish wisdom this fall, sharing their research on climate change’s potential impact in the Great Lakes.

Bill Taylor, University Distinguished Professor in Global Fisheries Systems and doctoral candidate Abigail Lynch presented their research that aims to develop a tool to help ecologists, managers, and others cope with changing climate and the way it changes lake whitefish stocks.

Surface temperatures of the Great Lakes are expected to increase by as much as 6 degrees C, average wind speed is expected to decline, and ice cover is expected to be substantially reduced, Lynch said. Fishery profitability has been inked with these climatic influences, and commercial fishing in the northern lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior reels in an average annual catch value of $16.6 million.

Taylor and Lynch say climatic changes will call for shifting to more regional governance.

“We’re working to assist in coordination of interjurisdictional fisheries conservation efforts and harvest strategies for lake whitefish and their ecosystems,” Lynch said.

Taylor and Lynch attended the 11th International Symposium on the Biology and Management of Coregonid Fishes here. Coregonus is a genus, which includes lake whitefish and other whitefish species, within the salmon family. 

The meeting brought together experts in biology and management to discuss issues within the following themes: biology, life history, and population dynamics; evolutionary ecology and genetics; fisheries management and stock assessment; conservation; aquaculture and rearing; and behavior and vertical migration.