Fisheries, Midwest Region
Conserving the Nature of America

Allie Lenaerts (Technician), Lucas Shea (Technician), and Jeff Stewart
(Biologist) revive a paddlefish that was captured on the Ohio River
while gill netting for Asian carp. Credit: Keith O'Loughlin, USFWS

Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) is one of only two paddlefish species in the world and is the only paddlefish species in North America, the other is in China. This fish is targeted for its high quality caviar thus making it prone to over harvest and illegal harvest. It is managed differently among states in its range. In some states the paddlefish is a commercial species, in some a sport fish species and in others a state threatened/endangered species.

They have long adorned the walls of biology classrooms and restaurants along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River and its major tributaries. Yet it wasn't until a 1989 petition to list the paddlefish as a threatened species that the Service began to focus on this far ranging, riverine species with a paddle like nose. Efforts began as state fish and wildlife resource agencies, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service met the challenge.

Paddlefish stock assessments on the Middle Mississippi River drainage and restoration programs are continuing to be developed. More than 1.2 million hatchery-reared and 10,000 wild-ranging paddlefish have been coded-wire tagged and released for monitoring as they move throughout the Mississippi River drainage.

Service facilities are evaluating the data collected from these tagged fish and are using the information to develop reports and plans that will help resource agencies improve their restoration planning. This effort was made possible through long-standing, effective partnerships with state, federal and nongovernmental organizations.

The Service also produced 600,000 paddlefish eggs and fry as part of a restoration program for the Oolagah Federal Reservoir.

The Paddlefish National Stocking Database is co-managed by the Carterville Fish and Wildlife Conservation OfficeColumbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation OfficeView a poster presentation on Midwest's Administration of the National Paddlefish Database(pdf)