The Case for Multi-jurisdictional Management of Ohio River Paddlefish

The paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) population in the Ohio River Basin is an inter-jurisdictional resource shared by 8 states and managed with 3 different strategies, restoration, protection, and harvest. These contrasting management strategies evolved from a historical gradient in abundance of paddlefish from the upper to lower reaches, differential impact of anthropogenic factors, and U.S. Supreme Court settlements, which changed river ownership among lower Ohio River states. Ohio River Basin states participated in a national paddlefish study during 1995-1999 verifying movement of paddlefish across state boundaries in the Ohio River. Recognition that paddlefish likely represent a single population within the Ohio River and consideration of the value and vulnerability of paddlefish as a source of caviar has created a need for comprehensive and cooperative management of paddlefish among Ohio River states.

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