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Assessment of salmon stocks and the use of management targets; a case study of the River Tamar, England

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Over recent years the rod and net catch of Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., on the River Tamar in south-west England has decreased markedly, resulting in a consistent failure to meet the minimum egg deposition target (conservation limit). Compliance with the target is by annual assessment using rod catch as the major input variable. Further analysis suggested a disproportionate deterioration in the rod fishery performance of the Tamar compared with rivers locally, regionally and nationally. A concomitant decrease in rod licence sales and fishing effort, above both national and regional trends was also evident. However, examination of juvenile electric fishing and adult fish counter data revealed a different trend for the past 10 years, indicating a stable fish population, albeit at a lower level of abundance than previously. The analyses suggested that without consideration of changes in effort and rod exploitation rate, rod catch alone is not a reliable indicator of stock abundance and hence should not be used as such in stock assessment.
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Keywords: Salmon Action Plans; conservation limit; electronic counters; rod catch; standing crop

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-02-01

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