Guest post: Logan Neu, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
A creel survey (also known as an angler survey) is a type of in-person survey performed by resource managers where an interviewer asks an angler questions about their fishing experience including questions such as the duration of the trip, how many fish they caught, and if they were satisfied with their experience. The interviewer may also ask about the angler’s thoughts about a future management decision. Additionally, harvested fish are counted and measured.
Creel surveys are performed to gain insight about recreational angling perceptions, efforts, and harvests in order to inform future decision making. Creel surveys are a valuable tool for fisheries managers to use in understanding the systems they manage and how the public interacts with them.
Phylogeny is the representation of evolutionary relationships, often displayed as a “tree” (i.e., branching diagram) where the most closely related organisms are connected by a node and more distantly related organisms have multiple steps back in the tree before they are connected. Nodes are often characterized by biogeographic events and evolutionary innovations.
In fishes, jawless fishes (such as hagfish and lampreys) are the most primitive, cartilaginous, and without paired fins; sharks and rays are cartilaginous with jaws and placoid denticles; and bony fish are the most diverse and derived fishes, with scales (see cycloid and ctenoid), swim bladders, and bony skeletons.
A culvert is essentially a tunnel to pass flowing water, typically a small stream, under a man-made structure, usually a road. Depending on the size, placement, and design of a culvert, the impacts to a stream channel vary. These impacts, in turn, can affect fish habitat and fish migration.
Culverts are frequently barriers to fish movement. If culverts are perched, where the outlet is higher than the elevation of the downstream water, fish are required to leap up into the culvert (if they are able) to continue moving upstream. Often, culverts are not installed to be perched from the outset, but the situation is caused by erosion at the outlet of the culvert from high flows which scour the channel bed. This type of culvert creates a downstream pool, changes the flow velocity and habitat type, and, consequently, can alter the fish community as well.
Local, state, and federal managers often work to replace or retrofit culverts that have significant ramifications for fish passage. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Fish Passage Program is one example.
Biogeography is the study of patterns in distribution of fish (or other) species. Biogeography provides an understanding of where populations are currently present and can help infer evolutionary relationships at a broad scale, including historic population isolation and colonization events. Geologically, many species patterns can be tracked with plate tectonics. The study of biogeography can also complement understanding of current ecological processes to explain distribution of populations at a local scale.
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A longline a type of fishing gear that is generally used to target pelagic species, such as large tuna and billfish. Baited hooks are attached to a long fishing line via shorter branch lines called snoods or gangions. Longlines can be anchored or freely adrift (with tracking devices so they can be retrieved). In certain open ocean fisheries, these lines can be miles long and hold thousands of hooks. They can be located at the surface or deeper in the water column.
Due to the nature of the gear, longlines are often subject to bycatch of unintended species. Management strategies to reduce incidental take of sharks, birds, turtles and other species include setting the lines quickly, at deeper depths, and at night. Sound deterrents can also help ward off seabirds.
Guest post: Lauren Flynn, New Mexico State University
From the Latin verb demergere, meaning ‘to sink’, demersal describes fish that live on or just above the ocean or lake floor. It can also refer to a commercial fishery for groundfish and shellfish, which typically uses gear that is weighted so it sinks to the bottom. Demersal fish are frequently captured by a trawl net that drags along the ocean or lake floor. As a result, demersal fisheries tend to be less discriminate than pelagic fishing methods such as long lines or gill nets that target fish using specific bait, specialized hooks, or mesh size. Bycatch can be an issue for demersal fisheries, but trawl net modifications using Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRD) help to increase capture of target species and reduce unintended catch.
Examples of demersal fish species are cod, haddock, and flatfish such as turbot and halibut. Popular shellfish include crab, shrimp, and lobster.
For comparison, see pelagic.
An ITQ is an Individual Transferable Quota. It is part of a quota system in which the managing agency divides up catch shares of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the fishing season. This essentially, creates a “stock market” like system for the fishery where ITQs can be bought and sold.
Setting up this type of management system is often contentious because some consider this process a privatization of public resources and others are concerned about the equity of the initial ITQ allocations. Generally, the starting ITQs are based on recent records from the fishery, such as boat ownership or prior catch. Once the system is in place, ITQs can be rented, bought, or sold.
While ITQs are considered effective in preventing “tragedy of the commons” collapses of fish stocks and have been credited with helping restore some fish populations, the approach remains controversial in some fisheries due to concerns with consolidation of ownership through market-based approaches.
TAC is Total Allowable Catch. This is the upper limit in the amount of fish, either by weight or number, that a fishery is allocated in a given season or year. TACs can apply to the targeted fish and/or bycatch, where once the limit is reached the fishery is closed for the remainder of the applicable time frame. Often, the TAC is set based on an assessment of the stock status for the fishery, such as maximum sustainable yield (MSY).
In open-access or “derby” style fisheries, there is a free-for-all competition until the TAC is exhausted. This can lead to risky or unsafe behavior, where vessels may continue to operate in hazardous conditions in order to harvest a larger proportion of the TAC. In order to avoid accidents from such situations, some fisheries have opted for quota-based management systems where the TAC can be divided into catch shares, such as Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs).
A quota is the allowable number or amount of fish that can be harvested in a commercial or recreational fishery. This is a regulatory strategy to limit harvest. They are set each fishing season based on allowance for sustainable harvest (e.g., see Maximum Sustainable Yield).
In certain commercial fisheries, quotas are essentially equivalent to a “share” in a fish stock. These Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs) can be bought and sold and entitle the owner to a given proportion of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for a fishing season.