Alternate Title

Using a Modified Purse Seine to Collect and Monitor Estuarine Fishes

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We developed a modified purse seine to sample shallow water estuarine habitats and evaluated the efficacy of using this gear as a tool for monitoring estuarine fish populations in Tampa Bay, Florida. The purse seine (183-m long, 5.2 m deep and 50-mm stretch mesh nylon throughout) was easily deployed and retrieved by a 7 m flat-bottomed, bow-driven boat with a hydraulic wench and aluminum pursing davit. Retention rates of pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides) marked and released into 35 net sets averaged 49% (range 9-100%). Retention rates were not significantly influenced by sets over vegetated and unvegetated bottom types, various water depths from 1-3.3m and sets with and without bycatch. We then used the modified purse seine to sample fishes at 550 randomly selected sites in Tampa Bay from January 1997 to December 1998. Sampled habitats ranged from 1.0 to 3.3 m deep and included seagrass beds and non-vegetated sand or mud bottoms. Benthic, demersal, and pelagic fishes were captured, indicating the purse seine effectively sampled the entire water column. A wide size range of fishes was collected including pre-recruitment sizes of several economically important species. The ability of purse seines to fish independent of adjacent shorelines allowed us to sample nearshore waters that included large expanses of sea grass meadow.

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