Conservation implications of angler misidentification of an endangered fish

Jarod P. Lyon, Zeb Tonkin, Paul D. Moloney, Charles Todd, Simon Nicol

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Conservation strategies for endangered species often include protection from harvest by humans. Correct species identification is paramount for this form of management to be effective. Trout cod (Maccullochella macquariensis) is a threatened Australian freshwater fish, occupying habitats in the southern Murray–Darling basin. Trout cod, although protected from angling, morphologically resemble Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii), a species that is a key target of recreational anglers. During a long-term mark–recapture study, angler return data were collected both for Murray cod and trout cod. Up to 40% of trout cod captured were identified by anglers as Murray cod, and the chance of misidentification increased with the increasing size of trout cod, implying that this species could be inadvertently retained by anglers. Moreover, unnecessary angling mortality of adult breeding individuals is likely to delay the time for recovery of this threatened species. As a large and vocal user group, anglers can play a key role in promoting the conservation of aquatic areas and fish species. There is a need for anglers and fishery managers to understand this problem and to work together on a solution, through the tighter enforcement of regulations where trout cod are present, and through an increased emphasis on education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1396-1402
Number of pages7
JournalAquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


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