Paddlefish Regulations Under Consideration

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Background
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MDC completed a 5-year research study to determine harvest rates for the Mississippi River and Missouri's reservoirs (Lake of the Ozarks, Harry S. Truman Reservoir, and Table Rock Lake) during 2015-2019.

To accomplish the study, sampled paddlefish above the length limit were tagged with a metal jaw band (see below table for further information).

Location # Tagged # Harvested Average yearly exploitation estimate
Mississippi River 2,224 92 2.5%
Black River 420 97 26.3%
St. Francis River 1798 17 7.7%
Lake of the Ozarks 2,134 470 8.0%
Harry S. Truman Reservoir 2,065 454 8.7%
Table Rock Lake 2,547 456 7.9%

Information gained from the study provided a baseline harvest rate which will guide paddlefish management in the future.

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Paddlefish in Missouri Presentation

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Recommendations Under Consideration
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Recreational snagging recommendations under consideration

Recommendation 1

State-wide minimum length limit: 32 inches, eye-to-fork length, (current state-wide length limit is 24 inches, this proposal would not change the current 34-inch minimum length limit in effect on Lake of the Ozarks, Truman Lake, and Table Rock Lake and their tributaries)

Reason MDC is considering a length-limit change: Paddlefish in the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and their tributaries are managed as a self-sustaining population - no stocking takes place. This increased length limit would allow female paddlefish to reproduce before they can be harvested, making fisheries more sustainable. A higher length limit may result in increased size of fish available for harvest.

Recommendation 2

Define snagging as a method in the Wildlife Code of Missouri. The newly proposed snagging definition will be Snag or Snagging: The act of hooking or attempting to hook a fish in a part of the body other than the mouth or jaw by means of a pole, line, and hook. Snagging is characterized by a repeated drawing or jerking motion of the pole, line, and hook or by trolling with an unbaited hook rather than enticement by bait or lure. Not more than one (1) pole may be used by one (1) person at any time to take or attempt to take fish by snagging, snaring, or grabbing.

Reason MDC is considering a definition of snagging: The Missouri Department of Conservation proposes to create an official definition of snagging as a method in the Wildlife Code of Missouri as well as add a clarification to its methods section.

Recommendation 3

No snagging after a daily limit of two (2) paddlefish has been harvested on Table Rock Lake (this same rule is currently in place at Lake of the Ozarks, Truman Lake, and their tributaries, and in the Osage River below U.S. Highway 54)

Reason MDC supports a prohibition on snagging after a daily limit of two paddlefish has been harvested on Table Rock Lake: If the proposed regulation is enacted, this regulation will add Table Rock Lake to an existing regulation that currently is in place on two other Missouri reservoirs and will have little impact on individuals snagging for non-game fish. However, those individuals with two paddlefish will not be able to continue to snag for any species of non-game fish.

Commercial fishing recommendations under consideration

Recommendation 1

Minimum length limit: 32 inches, eye-to-fork length, (current length limit is 24 inches)

Reason MDC is considering a length-limit change: Paddlefish in the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and their tributaries are managed as a self-sustaining population - no stocking takes place. This increased length limit would allow female paddlefish to reproduce before they can be harvested, making fisheries more sustainable. A higher length limit may result in increased size of fish available for harvest

Recommendation 2

Season: Nov. 1 to April 15 (currently there is no season, it’s open all year)

Reason MDC is considering a Nov. 1-April 15 commercial fishing season: Research indicates that when water temperatures are high, paddlefish are more likely to die in commercial nets. The proposed season is intended to limit unintentional mortality of paddlefish by prohibiting harvest during times when water temperatures are greater than 58F. Also, of the states that allow commercial paddlefish harvest, Missouri is the only state that does not have a season.

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Relevant Research