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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: david.armstrong@dcnr.state.al.gov. 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: david.armstrong@dcnr.state.al.gov

alligator gar history
Alligator gar history
  • 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 fishing regulations
Alligator Gar Fishing Regulations
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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
  • 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…
  • 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?”
natural disturbances gar
Natural Disturbances & Gar
  • 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?
  • 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
  • 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 ALL these reasons, we felt a conservation management plan was due.
  • A DRAFT plan was developed in 2007.
management plan goal
Management Plan - Goal

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
  • 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

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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Identify Habitat Restoration Projects.

1. What are “preferred” habitats?

2. Identify areas with spawning & rearing habitats.

conclusions
Conclusions
  • 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.