Overview of the alligator gar conservation management plan for alabama
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Overview of the Alligator Gar Conservation Management Plan for Alabama. Dave Armstrong Alabama Division of Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Spanish Fort, Alabama, 36527 Phone: 251-626-5153. Email: [email protected] Alligator gar history.

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Overview of the alligator gar conservation management plan for alabama

Overview of the Alligator Gar Conservation Management Plan for Alabama

Dave Armstrong

Alabama Division of Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries

Spanish Fort, Alabama, 36527

Phone: 251-626-5153.

Email: [email protected]


Alligator gar history
Alligator gar history for Alabama

  • Prior to 1990’s, Alligator gar were fairly common, relatively easy to catch.

  • Alligator gar provided a late summer fishery when “nothing else would bite”.

  • A


Alligator gar abundant 1985
Alligator gar for Alabamaabundant?, ~1985


Alligator gar fishing regulations
Alligator Gar Fishing Regulations for Alabama

  • Prior to 1992, No bag limit. Status is a “Regulated Non-game” fish. 220-2-.45

  • Due to significant harvest in early 1990’s,

    a bag limit was promulgated at

    2 fish/angler/day.

    ( October 1, 1992. 220-2-.105. )


Alligator gar public meeting
Alligator Gar Public Meeting. for Alabama

  • Interest in Alligator gar spurred a public meeting to discuss population status, concerns, & ideas about management.

  • Alli-gar anglers were invited to talk openly in informal meeting, October 12, 2004.

  • Various ideas were discussed RE:

    Population restoration & enhancement objectives.


What did we learn from anglers
What did we learn from anglers? for Alabama

  • Angler groups were self-regulating with Alli-gar harvest well below the current limit!

    In fact, most Alabama bow anglers harvest less than 1 alli-gar per year!

  • Hook & line anglers utilize catch & release.

  • Alli-gar pops. are diminished, but feel that numbers are stable…maybe recovering?


Alligator gar fishing regulations1
Alligator Gar Fishing Regulations for Alabama

  • Because current perceived angler harvest was low, an updated regulation was promulgated that satisfied both anglers and Alligator gar recovery plans.

  • Bag limit changed from

    2 to 1 fish/angler/day.

    ( October 1, 2005. 220-2-.35. )


Some anglers really like gar
Some anglers really like gar… for Alabama

  • A small number of anglers really enjoy catching alligator gar. Interest in this fish among anglers was spurred on by harvest of a new state record, August 13, 2004.

  • This new record Alli-gar also generated great interest from biologists. So, we asked “what else can we do to conserve this fish for future anglers, enthusiasts?”


State record august 13 2004 151 lbs 7 6
State Record, August 13, 2004 for Alabama151 lbs, 7’ 6”


State record august 13 2004 151 lbs 7 61
State Record, August 13, 2004 for Alabama151 lbs, 7’ 6”


Natural disturbances gar
Natural Disturbances & Gar for Alabama

  • Drought or low rainfall since 1999.

  • Increased fall salinities, reduced flows and water quality, increases or changes in vegetation.

  • Hurricanes Ivan, Katrina result in fish kills.

  • What are effects??


Hurricanes gar mortality
Hurricanes & gar mortality? for Alabama

  • 2 weeks Post-Hurricane Ivan (9-16-04), surface D.O. levels in some Upper Delta sites were as low as 0.8 mg/L. Substantial fish kills occurred – large paddlefish > 30”.

  • 1 week Post-Hurricane Katrina (8-29-05), surface D.O. levels were > 4.4 mg/L, but as low as 1.1 mg/L at depths of 1.5 to 3 m.

  • NO DEAD Alligator gar, but…what if?


Alligator gar potential mortality
Alligator gar & potential mortality for Alabama

  • Alligator gar are susceptible to both natural & fishing mortality.

  • We can control fishing mortality using bag or length limits.

  • BUT, we can’t control a natural disaster. What if climatic events result in a negative effect on the population?


Let s make a plan
Let’s make a plan!!! for Alabama

  • For ALL these reasons, we felt a conservation management plan was due.

  • A DRAFT plan was developed in 2007.


Management plan goal
Management Plan - Goal for Alabama

Conserve and enhance current population of Alligator gar for increased angling opportunities in a unique Alabama fishery.


Management plan objective 1
Management Plan – Objective 1 for Alabama

  • Evaluate status of hatchery stock.

    At MFH, currently holding 5 adult Alli-gar (131-165cm captured during 2005.

    Six (6) Alli-gar captured March 3-April 5.

    147.1 net-hours = 24.5 net-hours / Alli-gar

    Capture at 16.2 - 18.9 C, late am, rising tide.

    68.6 & 22.6m x 1.8m x 10.2cm bar multi.


Management plan objective 2
Management Plan – Objective 2 for Alabama

2. Collect additional brood stock Alli-gar.

1. Determine additional number needed?

a. Ensure adequate facilities for captive breeding & rearing program.

2. Develop techniques to increase sampling efficacy. Begin Spring 2008.


Management plan objective 3
Management Plan – Objective 3 for Alabama

  • Maintain brood-rearing population.

    1. Is a brood population feasible? Consider routine care & spawning frequency…probably not annually.

    2. Maintain larval & juvenile rearing

    facilities until preferred stock-size.


Management plan objective 4
Management Plan – Objective 4 for Alabama

  • Establish Alligator gar stocking guideline.

    1. Determine optimum size at stocking.

    2. Determine preferred habitats for

    restocking juvenile Alli-gar.

    3. Determine water bodies stocked.


Management plan objective 5
Management Plan – Objective 5 for Alabama

  • Monitor Alligator gar populations.

    1. Establish monitoring plan.

    a. Tag with PIT, OTC, FLOY?

    2. Monitoring could involve cooperator anglers.

    3. Identify Spawning-rearing habitats.


Management plan objective 6
Management Plan – Objective 6 for Alabama

  • Develop management guidelines

    1. Institute trophy tag system?

    a. Mandatory report by all anglers.

    2. Consider angler-based diary report?

    3. Consider minimum size limit?


Management plan objective 7
Management Plan – Objective 7 for Alabama

  • Identify Habitat Restoration Projects.

    1. What are “preferred” habitats?

    2. Identify areas with spawning & rearing habitats.


Conclusions
Conclusions for Alabama

  • ADWFF is concerned about Alligator Gar populations in Alabama.

  • Conservation Management Plan work objectives should begin in 2008.

  • ADWFF wants input to provide a plan with a high measure of success.


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