Commercial Shovelnose Fishing Restricted

In a nationwide effort to protect declining populations of the federally endangered pallid sturgeon, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) ruled in early October 2010 that shovelnose sturgeon must be treated as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act because of their similarity in appearance to the pallid sturgeon.

This action terminates the commercial harvest of shovelnose sturgeon and shovelnose-pallid sturgeon hybrids where they commonly coexist with the pallid sturgeon or where their ranges commonly overlap. Under this federal ruling, sturgeon caught by commercial methods in these areas must be immediately released with all roe (eggs) intact. The ruling does not apply to sport fishing.

As a result of this federal ruling, the harvest of the flesh or roe of shovelnose sturgeon and shovelnose-pallid sturgeon hybrids by commercial fishing methods is now prohibited in Missouri in the entire Missouri River and in the Mississippi River below Melvin Price Locks and Dam near Alton, Ill.

In response to this ruling, the Missouri Department of Conservation has offered a full refund of permit fee(s) to the six individuals who purchased a resident commercial harvest permit for roe and the three individuals who purchased a resident roe fish dealer permit for the current year.

Regulation changes to the Missouri Wildlife Code are pending.

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