Paddlefish Management, Propagation, and Conservation in the 21st Century

Commercial Harvest of Paddlefish in the Upper Mississippi River

Michael C. Quist, Michael J. Steuck, and Michelle M. Marron

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874127.ch21

Abstract—The purpose of this study was to examine spatial and temporal patterns in paddlefish Polyodon spathula harvest in the upper Mississippi River (UMR). Specifically, we described trends and evaluated the influence of environmental factors on commercial paddlefish harvest in Pools 9–26 of the UMR between 1953 and 2005. Commercial paddlefish harvest exhibited several peaks, with the highest harvests occurring in the 1950s and 1970s. Pool 19 had the highest harvest among years, while Pools 9 and 11 had the lowest harvest. Total and mean harvest was highest in Pool 13 and Pools 17–19 until the 1990s when the fishery was closed to commercial paddlefish harvest. Since that time, harvest has been restricted to Pools 20–26. Inflation-adjusted prices of paddlefish flesh have continued to decline over the past 50 years. Discharge and temperature characteristics in the spring and winter were not related to paddlefish harvest in any of the study pools; rather, peaks in paddlefish harvest were likely a reflection of the demand and price of roe.