Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping Project

Commercial fishing

Commercial fishing boat with whitefish
Commercial fishing boat with whitefish catch (Michigan Sea Grant)

Though today's catches are much diminished from historical levels, commercial fishing continues to be an economically and culturally important industry on the Great Lakes.

Mapping commercial fishing in the Great Lakes

  • Commercial fishing data were obtained from the USGS Great Lakes Science Center (GLSC) (1998-2007) and from the OMNR (2000-2009).
  • Commercial catch data were recorded in round pounds at a spatial resolution of 5-minute grid cell for Canada and 10-minute grid cell for the U.S. Exceptions included:
    • Canadian waters of Lake Ontario: data are recorded at a much coarser “quota zone”
    • U.S. waters of Lake Ontario: no spatial information was associated with the data;  Data for the U.S. waters of Lake Ontario were distributed to a relatively confined area (Chaumont Bay) with a smaller amount being distributed near Fox and Grenadier Islands based on communications with fisheries biologists.
  • Finally, the data were resampled to our working resolution (1-km grid cells) using the cubic convolution algorithm in ArcGIS.


Commercial fishing in the Great Lakes. Map shows average annual harvest in round pounds per km.



Data Sources: 

1. Kinnunen, R.E. 2003. Great Lakes Commercial Fisheries. Great Lakes Fisheries Leadership Institute. Great Lakes Sea Grant Network.