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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will deny the issuance of CITES export
permits for paddlefish and products (caviar) harvested from Kentucky Lake
during the recently completed 2008-2009 fishing season. Kentucky Lake
provides at least 63 percent of all caviar harvested in Tennessee. This
action will not impact the domestic sale of the caviar, but will prevent
Commercial harvest of paddlefish in Tennessee is managed by the TWRA.
Recent regulatory recommendations by the agency were based on a scientific
research study. This study originated from the Service’s concern over the
high number of applications for caviar export permits from this lake. The
results of this study indicated that paddlefish were indeed being
overfished. To address this, the state wildlife agency developed a
five-year plan to gradually increase the minimum size limit to protect
more mature females from harvest and close the fishing season earlier in
spring to decrease the mortality of discarded fish bycatch.
However, in 2008, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission deviated
from implementation of the State’s five-year management plan and adopted
less restrictive harvest regulations than those proposed by the TWRA,
including a decrease in minimum size limit and an increase in season
length. It is estimated these new regulations enacted for the regulation
of paddlefish harvested commercially in Tennessee protect only 7 percent
of mature female paddlefish in Kentucky Lake.
Steve McCadams is a professional hunting and fishing guide here in the Paris Landing
area. He has also contributed many outdoor oriented articles to
various national publications.