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Studying Fish Populations

Sampling, Tagging, Assessments, and Other Research

Responsible fisheries management starts with sound scientific information about fish populations and the ecosystems in which they live, as well as the fisheries that depend on them. Our biologists use a variety of methods to gather this information, including conducting scientific studies of fish and shellfish populations and the environment to collect fishery independent data and examining fishermen’s harvests to obtain fishery dependent data. They then use these data to assess the status of fishery resources. They share this information not only with Louisiana’s management authorities but also regional, national, and international interests. Managers use this information to make decisions about appropriate management measures to ensure the long-term health of resources and viability of fisheries.

Fishery Independent Data

LDWF biologists intensely study and actively monitor our fishery resources. Through numerous research projects, they collect biological data on a variety of species as well as data on water and environmental conditions. Using different types of fishing methods, our biologists regularly sample fish and shellfish populations in fresh and saltwater environments. They record important information about the species they catch, counting and measuring their samples and sometimes dissecting and studying them to determine their age and growth, reproduction, and genetics. In other research projects, they attach tags to their catch and release them to better understand their biology, ecology, and movements.

These projects help us not only monitor our fish and shellfish resources but also understand potential impacts of our fisheries on other species and habitat and how environmental conditions influence our fresh and saltwater resources.

Fish SamplingAge and Growth, Reproductive, and Genetic StudiesFish Tagging Grand Isle Fisheries Research Lab

Fishery Dependent Data

To monitor commercial fisheries, LDWF collects statistics about harvests through a trip ticket program. Dealers who purchase fish or shellfish from commercial fishermen and commercial fishermen who sell their catch directly to consumers must submit trip tickets with information about their harvest—what it is, where it was caught, how and how much was caught, etc. LDWF also interviews selected commercial fishermen to gather details about specific fishing trips and species of special interest.

LDWF staff monitor recreational fisheries through creel surveys during which biologists interview fishermen about their catch and where they fished. They sometimes sample the catch and collect data on size, age, and sex. To estimate freshwater recreational harvests of black bass and crappie, LDWF biologists focus on different freshwater areas across the state every three years. They survey anglers at public boat launches in these areas after anglers return from fishing trips and estimate catch based on survey results. LDWF’s Louisiana Recreational Creel Survey (LA Creel) uses a combination of data collected dockside and through phone and email surveys to estimate recreational saltwater fish harvests.

Fishery dependent data helps us understand the human impact on fishery resources.

Trip TicketsLA Creel

Assessing Fish Populations

Biologists use fishery independent and dependent data to assess the status of fishery resources. A fish population assessment, or stock assessment, is an estimation of the amount of fish that are available in the population and the rate they are removed by fishing. LDWF conducts stock assessments for a number of fresh and saltwater species. Managers use these assessments to recommend management measures such as seasons and limits to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission for implementation.

More Informationstock Assessment Reports

Other Research

LDWF also conducts socioeconomic research regarding the state’s fisheries. This information helps us assess the value of fishing and the impacts of changes in fisheries to coastal communities. These studies are especially important when dealing with the aftermath of large hurricanes or manmade disasters, which are common occurrences in the Gulf region.

Other research includes studies to improve fishing gear and reporting and monitoring of catch.

Research and Publications

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