Evaluation of Commercial Fisheries for American Shad in South Carolina and Status of the Species in Selected Waters

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Proceedings of a Workshop on American Shad

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The study was designed to evaluate the commercial shad fishery on the Waccamaw and Pee Dee Rivers, South Carolina, during 1974, 1975, and 1976. A creel census was conducted to determine the effort, catch, and success for the commercial fishermen. The fisheries were valued at approximately $39,000 annually. The approximate annual harvest for 1974, 1975, and 1976 was 99,000, 96,000, and 64,000 lbs, respectively. These harvest figures represent a drastic decline from the 1896 data. Additional data was gathered on the life history of American shad in the Waccamaw-Pee Dee system. The majority of spawning fish were four and five years old, with the males generally younger than the females. No evidence of repeat spawning was found. The population of commercially harvestable fish varied around 80,000. Escapement rates from commercial fishing effort for the males was approximately 80% and females 68%. Peak spawning activity occurred in April at water temperatures between 13.9C and 20.6C. The Pee Dee River was the major spawning stream, with little evidence of spawning in the upper Waccamaw River. The major nursery areas for juvenile shad were seaward of the 40 river mile limit with the majority of American shad moving into the ocean by March of the year following their hatching. Management recommendations were aimed at restoring the commercial catch to acceptable levels.

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