Gamefish Bycatch and Mortality in Hoop Nets in the St. Johns River, Florida

An intensive hoop net study was conducted on the St. Johns River, Florida, to: (1) estimate commercial hoop net effort, bycatch and initial gamefish mortality; (2) determine delayed mortality of game fish caught in hoop nets; and (3) estimate riverwide gamefish mortality in hoop nets. A survey of all known hoop net fishers revealed 38 fished 2,386 hoop nets for 794,300 net-days of effort in 1993. Between July 1992 and June 1993, 1,053 commercially-fished hoop nets were observed that were fished 7,320 net-days. Catfish (Ictaluridae) comprised 95% of the 87,278 individuals captured, while game fish comprised 2.3% of the total catch. Estimated riverwide hoop net-induced mortality in 1993 was 1 black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)l9.1 ha and 1 Lepomis spp./10.5 ha. We felt these low mortality estimates did not threaten gamefish populations on the St. Johns River, and recommended allowing the continued use of hoop nets.

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