Monday, August 29, 2016

Ohio Wildlife Division Lake Erie fisheries expert to take on all the Great Lakes

A leading Ohio Division of Wildlife Lake Erie fisheries expert is trading his state management hat for a quasi-federal larger size.

Jeff Tyson – current Lake Erie fisheries program administrator stationed at the Wildlife Division’s Sandusky office – will transfer his biological status flag to the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission office in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

There he’ll move out of administering people and shuffling papers to “facilitating” communication, priorities, plans, and activities between all of the Great Lakes’ state, provincial, tribal, and federal stakeholders. The commission is a joint venture between the United States and Canada and receives funds from these two respective federal entities.

In effect, Tyson’s job will entail helping to keep these varied interests from pulling in opposite directions; in effect , ensuring that “we’re all working toward the same set of objectives;” those points  being what’s  best for the Great Lakes fishes and their respective end users including sport and commercial fishers.

“I wasn’t job hunting,” Tyson also said about making such a major career move after spending 23 years with the Wildlife Division.

“I’ve always been happy here but I’m going to be able to take what I’ve learned and accomplished and now do it on a larger Great Lakes regional scale. I guess what it will be is that I will remain engaged but in a different way.”

As the head of the Wildlife Division’s Lake Erie fisheries program, Tyson supervised some 14 full-time and 10 seasonal employees bivouac at the agency’s Sandusky and also Fairport Harbor research station offices. The annual budget for this combined state fisheries research arm is $2.5 million.

However, at the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission Tyson will no longer manage people but rather work to build consensus between stakeholders so that the right hand does know what the left hand is doing.

“The Commission really is a vital link in helping people and government understand what everyone is doing and also to help them understand what options are available,” he said.

Though Tyson has held his present Wildlife Division job for only four years his impending departure in a few days from now does not mean a bitter separation from the agency.

“Absolutely not,” Tyson said. “It was a difficult decision; I owe a lot to the Wildlife Division, the people here and also with the lake’s stakeholders, like the anglers.”

True enough, also says Rich Carter, the Wildlife Division’s executive administrator for fish management and research.

Carter added that while Tyson’s departure represents a loss for the Wildlife Division and Lake Erie specifically, his move to the Commission really represents a plus for the entire Great Lakes and its mammoth fisheries diversity.

“We were surprised, sure, about Jeff’s move but all of us certainly recognize that someone as capable as he is – with all of his talents and with a great resume – deserved to take the job when presented with such a tremendous opportunity,” Carter said.

Carter said also that replacing Tyson will encompass a search that will begin immediately; a task made more difficult by the fact that Tyson was a perfect fit as the Lake Erie fisheries project administrator.

Regardless of who eventually replaces Tyson, the work of managing Lake Erie’s fisheries will continue without missing a heartbeat, Carter says as well.

That effort will remain focused on properly managing Ohio’s share of Lake Erie’s walleye and yellow perch fisheries “because they are critically important for our anglers and the economic health of our region,” Carter says.

And the new, still-to-be-named administrator will likewise focus on helping the “viability” of Lake Erie’s smallmouth bass and largemouth bass populations along with the Wildlife Division’s goal of restoring the Lake’s once thriving sauger population, Carter said.

“We’re confident we’ll find someone to lead our Lake Erie fisheries program into the future,” Carter said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. Jeff is the recipient of more than 125 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state

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