Bycatch of shortnose sturgeon in the commercial shad fishery of the Altamaha River, Georgia
Bahn, Robert Andrew
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Although the shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) has been federally protected as an endangered species since 1967, incidental capture of shortnose sturgeon in commercial shad fisheries has been documented as a source of mortality that may limit recovery of some populations. As such, shortnose sturgeon bycatch assessments were recently identified as a priority by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The objective of my study was to estimate total bycatch and mortality of shortnose sturgeon in the anchored gill net portion of the Altamaha River commercial shad fishery from 2007 - 09. During my study, total estimated bycatch of shortnose sturgeon was 71, 53, and 498 fish, respectively. Catch rates were highest during January and February of 2009 in upriver commercial nets near previously confirmed spawning locations in the river. Mortality of captured shortnose sturgeon was low in all three years (< 8%), although I did not assess post-release survival.