US Geological Survey
Date of this Version
Published in J. Appl. Ichthyol. 29 (2013), 316–322. DOI: 10.1111/jai.12132
Estimated number of shovelnose sturgeon Scaphirhynchus platorynchus impacted annually by towboat entrainment in navigation pools of the Upper Mississippi River were compared against estimates of fishery harvest and ambient population densities to evaluate the relevance of entrainment at the population level. Mean number of sturgeon entrained per kilometer of navigation was estimated at 0.02, and mean number entrained annually considering towboat traffic was estimated at 0.38 sturgeon/ha. Losses associated with entrainment were mostly lower than fishery harvest, although differences were not large. The two sources of mortality combined could potentially reduce the mature adult population to a level where it no longer has the reproductive capacity to replenish itself. Thus, through a combination of entrainment and fishing mortality shovelnose sturgeon may be looming near unsustainable population levels. These estimates are preliminary considering the many uncertainties associated with quantifying entrainment and its effects. Additional research is needed not only to derive better estimates, but also to develop options for managing entrainment.