2013 Alabama Provisional Commercial Paddlefish Harvest
In 1988, WFF suspended the commercial and recreational harvest of paddlefish in Alabama. This action was in response to a rapid decline of Alabama paddlefish stocks following an increase in the commercial harvest during the early 1980s. In recent years, biological sampling of paddlefish by WFF biologists has demonstrated that the species has recovered to the point where regulated provisional commercial harvest in Alabama would provide additional data that could be used to develop a long-term management plan for a sustainable paddlefish fishery.
In 2013, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) will implement a limited provisional season for the commercial harvest of paddlefish in specific sections of the Alabama River. Only 15 commercial fishing permits will be issued for the provisional season, which will last from March 11 through April 12, 2013. This season has been delayed for two weeks due to flood conditions on the Alabama River from the recent heavy rains.
Only Alabama residents that held a 2011-12 Alabama Freshwater Commercial Fishing License and nonresidents that held an equivalent 2012 Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois or Missouri Resident Commercial Roe Fish Harvester License will be eligible to submit entries. Residents of these states are eligible because only these four states allow Alabama residents to commercially fish for paddlefish in their waters. Eligible entries will be randomly drawn for the 15 paddlefish harvest permits. The deadline for entries to be received by WFF for the permit drawing is December 21, 2012.
During the 2013 provisional paddlefish season, the commercial harvest of paddlefish will only be permitted in three Paddlefish Management Areas (PMA) located on the Alabama River. Five permits will be issued for each of the three PMAs. The PMAs include a 13.8 - mile reach downstream of Robert F. Henry Lock and Dam (Jones Bluff) in Lowndes, Autauga and Dallas counties; a 13.2 - mile reach downstream of Miller’s Ferry Lock and Dam in Wilcox County; and a 12.9 - mile reach downstream of Claiborne Lock and Dam in Monroe and Clarke counties.
Commercial fishing for paddlefish will only be permitted in the three PMAs during daylight hours Monday through Friday during the season. No other fishing with commercial fishing gear will be allowed within the PMAs on the dates when commercial paddlefish fishing is permitted.