Tuesday, June 30, 2015

30/06/2015: Recreational fish-catch data can help save money in monitoring invasive largemouth bass

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are using data from fishing tournaments to gauge how non-native largemouth bass in Africa are invading lakes and preying on smaller, native fish, a huge cost-saving measure in fisheries management.
Image: Cliff
Largemouth bass are native to North America, but they have been distributed worldwide for recreational fishing. When they’re in waters outside North America, largemouth bass can cause declines in native fish abundance, disrupting the ecosystem.

UF fisheries and aquatic sciences Professor Micheal Allen and his colleagues at UF/IFAS and in South Africa used existing fish-catch data from bass tournaments in southern Africa, where largemouth bass are non-native and invasive.

Scientists examined data from 40 bass tournaments in lakes in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. They compared that information with 41 bass tournaments in the U.S., where bass are native species, between 2011 and 2014.

They found that angler catch data were similar between southern Africa and the US. Their data proves that the number and weight of the fish caught by recreational fishermen can be used to monitor the spread of exotic fish that are commonly caught by anglers.

Armed with their finding, researchers now know they can use angler catch data to monitor invasive fish distributions, and this could save over US$1 million a year in monitoring costs in countries where lakes are widely dispersed and difficult to access, said Allen.

John Hargrove, a doctoral student in UF’s wildlife ecology and conservation department, is the lead author on the study, published online June 5 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Visit the UF/IFAS site HERE.

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