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Monday, February 6 • 4:20pm - 4:40pm
Symposia Session - S1: Midwestern Reservoir Management and Assessment Strategies. Using Standardized Data to Evaluate Fishery Regulations in Ohio Reservoirs

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AUTHORS: Jeremy Pritt, Richard Zweifel, Joseph Conroy, Kevin Page, Stephen Tyszko - Ohio Division of Wildlife

ABSTRACT: The success of fisheries management actions is often difficult to assess because of dynamic fish population characteristics and variability in sampling. As a consequence, long time periods are often needed to statistically detect changes in in the response of fish populations to regulations, such as length and bag limits. Beginning in 2003, Ohio instituted a state-wide standardized sampling protocol for to monitor populations of a large suite of sport fishes, including Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) and White Crappie (P. annularis). From 2003-2010, a 229 mm minimum length limit and a 30 fish daily bag limit were implemented on crappie in 43 reservoirs across the state in order to increase the abundance and angler catch of large crappie. Using a mixed effects model framework to account for random variation among reservoirs and sample years, we used the standardized dataset to evaluate the effects of these crappie regulations on abundance of harvestable-sized fish, size structure (PSD), condition, mortality, and growth. For Black Crappie we found an increase in abundance of harvestable-sized individuals and PSD and a decrease in condition, mortality, and growth. For White Crappie, we found no change in abundance of harvestable-sized individuals, an increase in PSD and a decrease in condition, mortality, and growth. The success of the crappie regulation received mixed support. Although mortality declined and PSD increased (desired outcomes), decreases in growth and condition were concerning. The balance between decreases in mortality and decreases in growth likely determines the success or failure of crappie regulations on individual reservoirs. Our approach highlights the benefits of extensive, long-term, standardized sampling as we were able to integrate data across years and reservoirs to make powerful comparisons on a state-wide scale. We recommend that fisheries management agencies adopt a similar standardized approach for assessing fish populations and evaluating management actions.

Monday February 6, 2017 4:20pm - 4:40pm CST