Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Maine
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Maine Project

Commercial harvest influence on white sucker demographics

August 2013 - August 2016


Participating Agencies

  • Maine Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife

The State of Maine issues an unlimited number of commercial permits to harvest white sucker in Maine’s inland waters. The fishery provides a necessary source of lobster bait to coastal communities at a time when other bait sources are scarce. The impact of the increasing number of permits and subsequent numbers of fishermen on the white sucker population is unknown. The Maine Department on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has closed a number of waters due to concerns that overfishing and/or incidental catch of other fish species may occur. The goal of this project is to determine the impacts of commercial fishing on white sucker populations and review the existing management structure to optimize the population size and commercial white sucker harvest in waters that are open. This information will allow the MDIFW to determine which waters that are currently closed can be reopened to harvest. Before additional waters can reopen, the department needs to determine the effect of the current commercial fishery on existing populations of white sucker. Specific biological data (age, length, sex, fecundity), catch/harvest information, assessment of existing data, needs to occur to determine which areas are overfished from those area that are not overfished. Currently, harvesters are not required to report the number or weight of the fish they harvest. This information is critical to manage a growing fishery that an increasing number of commercial fishermen are relying on to supply lobster bait and household income.