Feasibility of a Commercial Paddlefish Harvest from Norris Reservoir, Tennessee

Mark-recapture techniques were used to estimate the abundance of harvestable size paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) in Norris Reservoir, Tennessee, during spring 1980. Results indicated a harvestable population of 8,772 fish with a 95% confidence interval of 4,557 to 18,467. A comparative study using gill nets of various bar mesh sizes showed that gill nets with 17.8-cm bar mesh or larger were more efficient for collecting harvestable paddlefish while having less adverse impact on sport fish species than did nets with smaller mesh sizes. Based on these results, recommendations include allowing commercial harvest on a contract basis of no more than 1,315 paddlefish (15% of the population estimate) or 395 female paddlefish which ever occurs first during the first year harvest, restricting harvest to the month of April, requiring the use of 17.8-cm bar mesh or larger gill nets, assessing the impacts on the fishery at the completion of the first year, and adjusting the harvest quotas for subsequent years if necessary.

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