Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 399-405

First online:

Sensitivity of North American sturgeons and paddlefish to fishing mortality

  • John BoremanAffiliated withUMass/NOAA Cooperative Marine Education and Research Program, University of Massachusetts

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Sturgeons and paddlefish exhibit unusual combinations of morphology, habits, and life history characteristics, which make them highly vulnerable to impacts from human activities, particularly fisheries. Five North American sturgeons (shortnose, Gulf, pallid, Alabama, and green sturgeon) are listed as endangered or threatened by management authorities. Managers have instituted fishery closures for the three other species of North American sturgeons (Atlantic, white, and shovelnose) and paddlefish because of low stock abundance at some point in this century. Reproductive potential in four species I examined (Atlantic, white, and shortnose sturgeon, and paddlefish) is more sensitive to fishing mortality than it is for three other intensively-fished coastal species in North America: striped bass, winter flounder, and bluefish. The sturgeons and paddlefish are generally longer-lived than the three other coastal species, and also have an older age at full maturity, lower maximum fecundity values, and older ages at which 50% of the lifetime egg production is realized with no fishing mortality.

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