Shovelnose sturgeon Scaphirhynchus platorynchus have become an increasingly important commercial species in the upper Mississippi River (UMR) because of the collapse of foreign sturgeon (family Acipenseridae) populations and bans on imported caviar. In response to concerns about the sustainability of the commercial shovelnose sturgeon fishery in the UMR, we undertook this study to describe the demographics of the shovelnose sturgeon population and evaluate the influence of commercial harvest on shovelnose sturgeon populations in the UMR. A total of 1,682 shovelnose sturgeon were collected from eight study pools in 2006 and 2007 (Pools 4, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, and 18). Shovelnose sturgeon from upstream pools generally had greater lengths, weights, and ages than those from downstream pools. Additionally, mortality estimates were lower in upstream pools (Pools 4, 7, 9, and 11) than in downstream pools (Pools 13, 14, 16, and 18). Linear regression suggested that the slower growth of shovelnose sturgeon is a consequence of commercial harvest in the UMR. Modeling of potential management scenarios suggested that a 685-mm minimum length limit is necessary to prevent growth and recruitment overfishing of shovelnose sturgeon in the UMR.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/clay_pierce/16/