A Review and Updated Assessment of Florida's Anadromous Shads: American Shad and Hickory Shad

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Nebraska, Lincoln]On: 08 October 2014, At: 06:43Publisher: Taylor & FrancisInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

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    A Review and Updated Assessment ofFlorida's Anadromous Shads: AmericanShad and Hickory ShadRichard S. McBride a & Jay C. Holder ba Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission , 100 EighthAvenue SE, St. Petersburg, Florida, 33701-5020, USAb Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission , 5450 U.S.Highway 17, DeLeon Springs, Florida, 32130, USAPublished online: 08 Jan 2011.

    To cite this article: Richard S. McBride & Jay C. Holder (2008) A Review and Updated Assessment ofFlorida's Anadromous Shads: American Shad and Hickory Shad, North American Journal of FisheriesManagement, 28:6, 1668-1686, DOI: 10.1577/M07-066.1

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  • A Review and Updated Assessment of Floridas AnadromousShads: American Shad and Hickory Shad

    RICHARD S. MCBRIDE*1

    Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,100 Eighth Avenue SE, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5020, USA

    JAY C. HOLDERFlorida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,

    5450 U.S. Highway 17, DeLeon Springs, Florida 32130, USA

    Abstract.This paper reviews the history of fishing, regulations, and stock assessments for Floridas

    anadromous shad speciesAmerican shad Alosa sapidissima and hickory shad A. mediocrisand assesses

    their status in Floridas St. Johns River based on a creel survey and an electrofishing survey. Historically,

    these anadromous shads constituted an important fishery in Florida. Landings were first reported in the 1860s,

    and scientific assessments occurred in the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s. Netting restrictions effectively

    ended the commercial fishery in the 1990s. We used recreational catch rates as a proxy for stock size and

    found it to be low but stable during 19932005. The mean length of American shad was significantly less

    during 20022005 than it was historically (1958), and the recent proportions of female American and hickory

    shad were significantly lower than the historical proportions. These data were interpreted as demonstrating a

    negative, but perhaps only an historical, effect of fishing. The rebuilding of Floridas anadromous shad stocks

    via fishing regulations was not evident; this may require more time, or perhaps factors other than fishing are

    interfering with the rebuilding process.

    American shad Alosa sapidissima and hickory shad

    A. mediocris are anadromous clupeids that spawn in

    rivers but spend most of their adult lives at sea. Along

    the U.S. East Coast, American shad spawn from

    Canada to Florida (Limburg et al. 2003) and hickory

    shad from Maryland to Florida (Harris et al. 2007). In

    Florida, American and hickory shad spawn during

    winter in rivers of the northeastern part of the state;

    their juveniles migrate to the lower reaches of the river

    and out into coastal habitats during the following fall

    (McBride 2000; Trippel et al. 2007).

    Worldwide, the biology and management of Alosa

    and other shad species (Alosinae) have received

    considerable attention (e.g., Limburg and Waldman

    2003). In North America, American and hickory shad

    constituted very important fisheries, but declining

    landings coupled with the expansion of other fisheries

    have reduced their economic and cultural importance

    (Walburg and Nichols 1967). Along the U.S. East

    Coast, anadromous shad stocks are managed by a

    fishery management plan (FMP) overseen by the

    Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC

    1985, 1999). In the most recent stock assessment

    (ASMFC 2007), over one-half (19 of 32) of the

    American shad stocks were reported to be either

    declining or unknown; only two stocks were consid-

    ered to be increasing in abundance.

    This paper presents a case study of American and

    hickory shad in Floridas St. Johns River as an example

    of this ongoing stock assessment process by the

    ASMFC and its member states. The central east coast

    of Florida is the southern limit of the distribution for

    both species, and the St. Johns River (Figure 1) is the

    only river within Florida with sufficient data for the

    analysis of either species (Rulifson 1994; Florida Fish

    and Wildlife Conservation Commission, unpublished

    data). The St. Johns River is 499 km in length and

    flows slowly from south to north; because it drops only

    9.1 m in elevation (,2 cm/km) and widens at variouspoints to create several shallow lakes and appends to

    others, it is known as a river of lakes.

    This paper begins with a brief review of the

    fisheries, fishing regulations, and stock assessments

    of Floridas American and hickory shad (see McBride

    2000 for a more detailed review). The remainder of the

    paper assesses the status of these two stocks using data

    from recent fishery-dependent and fishery-independent

    collections in the upper St. Johns River and, where

    appropriate, unpublished data from earlier research by

    Floridas state research programs (e.g., Williams and

    Bruger 1972; Williams et al. 1975). The underlying

    * Corresponding author: richard.mcbride@noaa.gov1 Present address: National Marine Fisheries Service,

    Northeast Fisheries Science Center, 166 Water Street, WoodsHole, Massachusetts 02543-1026, USA.

    Received April 10, 2007; accepted April 21, 2008Published online November 20, 2008

    1668

    North American Journal of Fisheries Management 28:16681686, 2008 Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2008DOI: 10.1577/M07-066.1

    [Article]

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  • FIGURE 1.Map of the St. Johns River and related lakes. River lengths are indicated at 100-km intervals from the mouth of the

    river near Mayport.

    ANADROMOUS SHADS OF FLORIDA 1669

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  • purposes of this study were (1) to review the available

    data and information regarding Floridas American and

    hickory shad and (2) to assess the recovery of these

    stocks in light of the extensive reductions in commer-

    cial fishing effort that have occurred recently.

    Historical Review

    Fisheries. Floridas native Americans most likely

    fished for anadromous fishes, but unlike in other states,

    there are no specific records of this (McBride et al.

    2003, poster at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Florida

    Chapter of the American Fisheries Society). Commer-

    cial shad fishing began in Floridas St. Johns River as

    early as the 1860s (Baird 1874; Osborn 1882; Dempsey

    1887), but Floridas was the last shad fishery to

    develop along the U.S. East Coast and it was relatively

    small compared with those in other states (McBride

    2000). The expansion of railroads into Florida

    increased the value of Floridas fishery because the

    fish could then be readily transported to northern

    markets (Brice 1898), and by 18891890 the landings

    (.0.9 million kg) and value (US$100,000) of Floridasshad stocks were higher than those of any other marine

    product harvested within the state (Smith 1893).

    Landings of Floridas shad stocks peaked at the turn

    of the century at about 1.4 million kg and fluctuated

    between 0.09 and 0.4 million kg from the 1920s to the

    1960s. Thereafter, commercial landings of Floridas

    shad stocks continued to decline and dropped dramat-

    ically to zero in the 1990s (Table 1; Walburg 1960a,

    1960b; Walburg and Nichols 1967; Williams and

    Bruger 1972; ASMFC 1985; McBride and Richardson

    2005).

    Landings of Floridas shad stocks declined during

    the last century for a variety of reasons. Although

    overfishing has been implicated (Williams and Bruger

    1972), commercial landings and effort have both

    declined because of shrinking markets for these species

    and because of increasingly restrictive netting regula-

    tions within Florida. The most recent decline in

    commercial landings of Floridas shad stocks was a

    result of netting restrictions that reduced gill-net effort

    to zero in the 1990s (McBride 2000).

    At the beginning of Floridas commercial shad

    fishery, only gill nets were used (Baird 1874). By the

    1900s, fishing methods had expanded to include drift

    gill nets, haul seines, and anchored or staked gill nets

    (Smith 1898; Stevenson 1899; Walburg and Nichols

    1967). In the 1950s, haul seines were the primary gear,

    and gill nets were secondary (Walburg 1960a). Today,

    netting for shad is no longer a significant commercial

    enterprise in Florida. During the early 1970s, haul

    seines were discontinued in the St. Johns River

    (Williams and Bruger 1972), and by the late 1990s

    gill nets were so heavily regulated that they were

    virtually eliminated as commercial gear (McBride

    2000).

    Floridas commercial shad fishing grounds have

    shifted over time as well. In the 1860s, shad fishing

    became established near the mouth of the St. Johns

    River, between Mayport (river kilometer [rkm] 0;

    Figure 1) and Jacksonville, and also farther upstream,

    near Palatka (rkm 127; Baird 1874). By the 1950s,

    harvest was primarily by set gill nets in the lower river

    and by haul seines in the middle river (near Palatka;

    Walburg and Nichols 1967). The use of gill nets around

    the Mayport jetties had increased by the 1970s, and by

    the early 1990s nearly all of the shad harvested came

    from gill nets fished in coastal waters just offshore of

    Mayport (Williams and Bruger 1972; McBride 2000).

    Fishing offshore of Atlantic states other than Florida

    (i.e., the ocean-intercept fishery) probably added

    additional fishing pressure on Floridas shad stocks. In

    the 1980s and 1990s gill-net landings of shad from this

    ocean-intercept fishery more than doubled (ASMFC

    1999). By 2005, ocean-intercept fishing was phased out

    because of concerns that fishing on mixed stocks in the

    ocean could be adversely affecting smaller shad stocks,

    which were by and large poorly monitored (ASMFC

    1985, 1998, 1999; Hoenig et al. 2008).

    TABLE 1.Annual (19872005) commercial landings of

    anadromous American and hickory shad, combined, from

    Floridas Nassau, Duval, and St. Johns counties (all coastal),

    and Putnam county (inland). The geographic area was chosen

    to limit misreporting of other species that are commonly called

    shad (i.e., menhadens Brevoortia spp. on Floridas westcoast and gerreids in south Florida). A fishing year covers the

    period from July of one year to June of the next year (e.g.,

    1987 July 1986June 1987). Total landings combine oceanand riverine catches. Source: Florida Marine Fisheries

    Information System.

    Fishing year Ocean landings (kg) Total landings (kg)

    1987 64,557 70,6501988 121,023 121,0791989 74,927 75,0511990 77,219 131,4971991 26,732 32,5421992 22,560 22,6351993 11,138 11,1381994 11,332 11,3491995 12,178 12,2211996 1,659 1,6591997 25 251998 8 81999 218 2182000 364 3642001 0 02002 0 02003 0 02004 0 02005 0 0

    1670 MCBRIDE AND HOLDER

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  • Although sportfishing for shad stocks in the St.

    Johns River occurred as early as the late 1800s (Pfeiffer

    1975), it was the introduction of spinning tackle in the

    1940s that helped popularize shad sportfishing (Snyder

    1949; Nichols 1959; Walburg 1960a, 1960b). During

    the 1950s and 1960s, the shad sport fishery in the St.

    Johns River was estimated to be larger than the shad

    sport fisheries in any of the other Atlantic states

    (Nichols 1959, 1966; Walburg and Nichols 1967).

    Today, most shad in Florida are caught by recreational

    anglers practicing catch and release (see Assessment

    Update). Fly-fishing for shad in particular has become

    popular in Florida (Lindsay 1999). Anglers fishing for

    shad use public boat ramps and fish camps on the St.

    Johns River between DeLand and Lake Poinsett (rkm

    238378; Walburg 1960a; Branyon 1999; McPhee

    2002), traditional access points being found near

    Shad Alley at Cameron Wight Park (rkm 281),

    Mullet Lake Park (rkm 285), Lemon Bluff (rkm 290),

    Puzzle Lake (accessible from C. S. Lee Park [rkm

    310]), and Hatbill Park (rkm 330). The certified state

    record fish (a tie) for American shad (2.36 kg) were

    caught in the St. Johns River within Seminole and

    Volusia counties (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conserva-

    tion Commission, floridafisheries.com/record.html).

    Regulations.Commercial fishing regulations for

    Floridas shad stocks have existed since 1896,

    including (1) effort restrictions (no fishing on Sundays),

    (2) mesh size restrictions (to allow the escapement of

    smaller fish), and (3) closed areas (nets prohibited

    within inlets and in the lake portions of the St. Johns

    River) (Stevenson 1899; Walburg and Nichols 1967).

    By 1960, regulations included (1) a commercial season

    (November 15 to March 15) and (2) an area closed to

    commercial nets south of Lake George (rkm 197). In

    the 1990s, a series of mesh size and net-tending

    regulations culminating in a net limitation referendum

    (Constitution of Florida, article X, section 16) caused

    sharp reductions in Floridas commercial shad landings

    and effort (McBride 2000). Consequently, although

    sale of American and hickory shad is not prohibited, the

    commercial net fishery for shad has been effectively

    eliminated within state waters.

    Sportfishing for Floridas shad stocks has been

    regulated by bag limits since 1955. In 1973, the initial

    bag limit of 15 American shad was lowered to 10 fish...

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