Potential Caviar Fishery Impacts on Louisiana Bowfin Populations

In recent years, a small scale bowfin (Amia calva) roe fishery in Louisiana has increased in both volume and value. To initiate an evaluation on the impacts of this fishery on bowfin populations, 3 study areas were selected to represent various ecosystems inhabited by bowfin. It was not possible to relate growth, size, and sexual maturity with age based on otolith samples. Length-frequency data suggested that 9-month-old fish ranged from 225-400 mm and 21-month-old bowfin may grow to 525 mm. Gonadosomatic indices showed a constant increase through February, and all females observed had spawned by early March. Gonadal development and length frequency data support the conclusion that most bowfin in Louisiana mature during their second winter. It appears that at least some bowfin mature before they become vulnerable to legal mesh (76 mm) gill nets. Other legal gears such as trotlines and hoopnets are capable of capturing bowfin before they mature, but their impact on the population has not been evaluated.

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