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Recreational fish-catch data can help save money in monitoring invasive largemouth bass

 

In this photo released by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, fisheries ecologist Mike Allen, right, discusses largemouth bass research with graduate student Bobby Harris, at a private pond near Hawthorne, Fla. — Tuesday, March 16, 2010. Harris was about to enter the water in search of nesting bass. Allen recently published a study showing bass populations seldom benefit when lakes are closed to fishing during spawning season. (AP photo/University of Florida/IFAS/Tyler Jones)

See caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — 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.

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 U.S. 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 $1 million dollars 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. 

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Caption: UF/IFAS fisheries and aquatics Professor Mike Allen, right, used data from recreational fishing tournaments in Africa to gauge how many largemouth bass were there. Largemouth bass are native to North America, but are distributed worldwide for angling tournaments. Among other issues with these invasive species, they prey on smaller fish in the lakes. Also, the new finding will save millions of dollars in fish-monitoring costs, Allen says.

Credit: Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS photographer/file

 By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

Source: Micheal Allen, 352-273-3624, msal@ufl.edu