Commercial interest in bowfin has increased since the 1990s, which was when the primary source of caviar, sturgeon and paddlefish populations, began to decline. Landings peaked in 2014, at 560,000 lbs, and in 2015 catches were 370,000 lbs and in 2016, 287,000 lbs. Despite the decreased catch in 2016, bowfin product (primarily roe) was worth $587,000 USD, the highest amount on record.
Bowfin caught with set gillnets in Louisiana is Recommended by Ocean Wise. Abundance and fishing mortality rates are unknown but, while commercial interest has increased recently, the species has characteristics that makes them resistant to overfishing. Buffalofish are also retained by the fishery and none of the three species caught have known stock status. Management is considered to be moderately effective, with a range of measures in place, including seasonal and area closures, gear specifications and catch restrictions. While these are expected to be effective, actual effectiveness is unknown. Impacts on the habitat from fishing gear are rated moderate, though there are numerous areas where the use of gillnets is banned, which is considered an effective mitigation strategy. However, little is known of ecosystem impacts.
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