Article Title

Environment, Culture, and the Great Lakes Fisheries

Journal Title/Source

Geographical Review

Publication Date




Issue (if applicable)


Page Numbers


DOI (if applicable)

DOI: 10.1111/j.1931-0846.2014.12041.x

Document Type

Journal Article


Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences


The commercial fisheries of the United States and Canadian Great Lakes are in a long period of decline. Detailed statistics kept for well over a century document a fluctuating pattern of harvests of the major commercial species. In the1940s, sea lamprey began to devastate the fisheries, an effect that has not been fully countered. Overfishing, nonnative species, declining nutrient levels, and chemical pollution have contributed to reduced catches. Court decisions in the United States and Canada during the past thirty years have awarded a sizable share of commercial fishing rights to Native North Americans for their own support and sustenance. The Lake Erie yellow perch and walleye fishery, based mainly in Ontario, is the most successful commercial fishing operation in the region. Despite the many environmental and cultural challenges, the Great Lakes fisheries live on.