Fish tagging crews from Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) offices in Somerset, Linesville, and Pleasant Gap assembled at the PFBC Linesville Fish Culture Station on July 30 and 31, 2003. The mission was to tag the 2003 production lot of paddlefish prior to them being stocked into the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers. A total of 1,612 three-month old paddlefish averaging 12 inches in length were tagged during this operation. The tagged paddlefish were subsequently stocked into the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers on August 1, 2003. The tag consists of a piece of very thin wire about the size of a pencil point that contains codes of when and where the fish was stocked. The tag is inserted toward the tip of the rostrum (paddle or bill) in each fish and can be recovered if and when the paddlefish is recaptured years later. Valuable information about paddlefish restoration efforts can be acquired through recovery of these tags even 25 years after they are stocked.
A portion of the tagged paddlefish will also be used in a research project being conducted for the PFBC by the Pennsylvania State University and California University of Pennsylvania. This is the second year of this study being funded through a grant of the Wildlife Restoration and Conservation Program, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This study is employing radio-tracking technology to determine the movements of stocked fish within the Three Rivers. An estimate of stocked fingerling paddlefish survival is another element of the research. Radio tracking of the paddlefish will take place throughout this fall and winter.
Paddlefish are native to the Ohio River drainage in Pennsylvania and because of pollution, dams, and dredging they had been gone from Pennsylvania since 1919. The paddlefish restoration effort is taking place in Pennsylvania because water quality in the Three Rivers system has improved dramatically over the last 30 years. Return of native species serves as a valuable indicator of improvement in water quality conditions of the Ohio River drainage. Paddlefish restoration in Pennsylvania started in 1991 and since that date almost 89,000 paddlefish have been stocked into the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers. The tagging phase of this effort started in 1995 as part of a 33 state Paddlefish Tagging Project coordinated by the Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource Agreement.
The area of paddlefish stocking in Pennsylvania includes the Ohio River from the Point in Pittsburgh downriver to the state line, and the Allegheny River from the Point in Pittsburgh upriver to Lock and Dam 6 at Clinton, PA. A goal of the effort is to establish a reproducing paddlefish population in Pennsylvania, which could ultimately lead to discontinuing the annual stocking. Our neighboring states of New York and West Virginia are also engaged in paddlefish restoration efforts.
Please contact Area Fisheries Manager Rick Lorson at Phone: 814-445-3454 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information regarding paddlefish restoration.
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