Case Studies in Fisheries Conservation and Management: Applied Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Case 31: Rehabilitation Project Assessment for Lentic Habitat Improvement
You have just been hired as a fishery biologist by a state natural resource agency in the Midwest. Your first task is to appear at a public meeting at a town that has a public impoundment located next to it. The local anglers have requested that the agency come to the meeting and provide them with alternatives to improve the fishing in that local impoundment. Long-time residents can remember a time when the fishing was much better than it is now. Your first reaction to this news is to head to the office files. You find that the impoundment is being managed as a centrarchid fishery, with largemouth bass and bluegill two of the primary targets. Spring night electrofishing has occurred annually for nearly three decades. One glance at the sampling data for the last few years quickly confirms that the population abundances for the bass and bluegill are probably quite low, while common carp abundance is quite high. Your next step is to assess the habitat information that has been collected over the years. Again, it does not look like good news—turbid waters (physical turbidity), shallow, wind-swept, and a nearly complete lack of submergent aquatic vegetation.
The three components of a fishery are habitat, biota, and the human dimension. The type, amount, and quality of habitat available will determine the nature of a sport fishery. For example, centrarchid-dominated fisheries often occur in Midwestern lakes where submergent vegetation covers a substantial portion of the lake area. Similarly, the available habitat will determine the suitability of a water body for a rare or nongame fish species.