Comparing commercial and recreational harvest characteristics of paddlefish Polyodon spathula (Walbaum, 1792) in the Middle Mississippi River


Here we contrast the relative influence of the commercial and recreational harvest sectors on the Middle Mississippi River paddlefish Polyodon spathula (Walbaum, 1792) population. We performed a creel survey of randomly selected commercial fishers and recreational anglers to gather characteristic harvest information to make comparisons between sectors. We found that the commercial sector harvested predominately large, mature paddlefish. Conversely, the recreational sector tended to harvest a greater proportion of small, immature paddlefish. Because these sectors are harvesting different portions of the population, the relative influence on the dynamic rate functions and potential conflict between sectors must be taken into account for fishery management decisions. One approach would be to increase the minimum length limit, to allow for equal harvest between the commercial and recreational harvest sectors. Ultimately, this will allow for both harvest sectors to harvest the same portion of the population, as well as increase the reproductive potential of the population. Additionally, obtaining an accurate assessment of the catch and effort for both sectors is imperative for the management and allocation of a shared resource.

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Journal of Applied Ichthyology