Trophy northern pike: the value of experimentation and public engagement

January 2, 2016 - Author: Andrew K. Carlson

Journal or Book Title: Reviews in Fisheries Science and Aquaculture

Volume/Issue: 24

Year Published: 2016

Northern pike (Esox lucius) are ecologically and socioeconomically important throughout Canada and the northern United States. In Minnesota, USA, large northern pike were historically abundant, but size-selective harvest and poor growth (i.e., stunting), in combination with thermal warming and prey resource limitation, have hindered development of fisheries with trophy individuals (≥ 43 inches) in recent decades. Despite strong interest of fisheries managers and public stakeholders in trophy management, historical approaches to improve population size structure (e.g., stocking, removal of small individuals, minimum length limits, liberalized creel limits) were largely unsuccessful. Currently, more than 100 Minnesota water bodies are managed under a series of special and experimental regulations (e.g., protected slot limits, minimum size limits, maximum size limits) intended to enhance size structure and promote trophy angling. These regulations have improved size structure in some lakes, yet trophy management can be improved by diversifying harvest regulations and enhancing public engagement strategies. It is particularly important to minimize or eliminate harvest of large individuals; protect and restore critical habitats; maintain high-energy prey resources; limit density of small individuals; experimentally evaluate regulation effects; and actively engage the public in the management process. Overall, fisheries managers can sustain trophy fisheries for present and future generations by solidifying the nexus among northern pike research, management, and human dimensions.

DOI: 10.1080/23308249.2015.1112765

Tags: center for systems integration and sustainability


Authors

Andrew Carlson

Andrew Carlson

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