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Wednesday, February 8 • 9:00am - 9:20am
Technical Session. Population Demographics of Shovelnose Sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus) in the Wabash River

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AUTHORS: Jessica L. Thornton, Rob Colombo - Biological Sciences Department, Eastern Illinois University; Leslie D. Frankland, Jana Hirst - Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife; Craig Jansen, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife; Vaskar Nepal KC, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary

ABSTRACT: The shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus) population in the Wabash River provides an important recreational sport and commercial caviar fishery for both Illinois and Indiana. The Wabash features 411 miles of free-flowing river, providing important habitat for shovelnose sturgeon whose life history includes an age at maturation of 5 to 7 years. Due to the international caviar trade, the population occupying the Wabash River has experienced an increase in commercial harvest over the last decade. Previous studies have shown that increased harvest pressure in this species can slow maturation and result in recruitment overfishing. Therefore, it is increasingly important to closely and continuously monitor the population in order to best manage the fishery for sport and commercial fishing. Over the past decade, shovelnose sturgeon were sampled with boat electroshocking, hoop nets, gill nets, trotlines, and driftnets. In all, fish captured between 2005 and 2015 ranged from 61 to 910mm fork length, with an overall average fork length of 666.99 ± 0.57mm, and an average weight of 1194.34 ± 3.17g. The mean relative weight was 87.6 g, falling within the target range of 80-90, but over the years, relative weight showed a linear decrease with most recent figures in the low end of the target range. Mean fork length (mm) was variable, but did not show any increasing or decreasing trends in the last decade. The overall proportional size structure indices for stock, preferred, memorable, and trophy size fish were 100, 98, 70, and 1 respectively. Despite the increase in commercial harvest of shovelnose sturgeon in the Wabash, the demographics remain relatively stable, though most recent data have shown a decline in the population’s physiological condition. Further monitoring is necessary to maintain a sustainable population and support continued sport and commercial harvest in the Wabash River.

Wednesday February 8, 2017 9:00am - 9:20am CST
Grand Ballroom D

Attendees (2)