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DNR sets lowest safe walleye harvest limit ever on Mille Lacs Lake

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Walleye anglers on Mille Lacs Lake will likely see similar regulations to last year when the season opens May 10. On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources set the 2014 walleye safe harvest level at 60,000 pounds.

The Star Tribune reports that is the lowest level ever. The newspaper says that compares to the 2006 safe harvest limit which was set at 600,000 pounds, the highest ever.

According to a news release from the DNR, 42,900 pounds is allocated to the state and 17,100 pounds is allocated to the eight Chippewa bands with 1837 Treaty harvest rights.

DNR Fisheries Chief Don Pereira said the limited harvest, combined with potential additional more restrictive regulations, will provide the needed protection for the lake's struggling walleye population.

Pereira said in a statement, "Is the walleye population where we want it? Absolutely not, but restrictive harvest opportunities this year will not impair the lake's ability to produce future generations of walleye."

Pereira said the allocations reflect biologists' deep concern about the lake's inability to produce large crops of young walleye, despite adequate spawning stock and excellent production of young fingerling-sized fish. Pereira said the lake has not produced a strong class of walleye since 2008.

The DNR says improving the lake's walleye fishery as expediently as possible with as little negative impact to the local community as possible is their primary goal.

The DNR said the situation will not turn around for several years.

It will announce final Mille Lacs open water fishing regulations in March.

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