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A Fish of Weedy Waters: Golden Shiner Biology and Culture

Stone, Nathan M., Kelly, Anita M., Roy, Luke A.
Journal of the World Aquaculture Society 2016 v.47 no.2 pp. 152-200
Notemigonus crysoleucas, aquaculture, baitfish, farmers, farming systems, farms, forage, harvesting, market share, predation, universities, Midwestern United States
The golden shiner, Notemigonus crysoleucas, is a major bait and forage fish species in the USA. Farmers produce millions of golden shiners annually that are distributed live, many across state boundaries. Native over much of the eastern and central USA, this species is often present but rarely abundant in natural systems, as fish density is apparently controlled by predation rather than by food resources. Aquaculture of the golden shiner is a century‐old practice and culture methods have evolved over time, resulting in today's farm‐raised, certified specific pathogen– and aquatic nuisance species–free baitfish. Federal and state agencies and universities have a long history of developing culture methods and promoting baitfish culture to replace the indiscriminate and wasteful harvest of fish from natural waters. Despite advances in culture methods and the advantages of a farm‐raised species produced under controlled and biosecure conditions, golden shiner farming is only marginally profitable and remaining farmers survive on farm equity and increased market share from others exiting the business. Ironically, increasing regulations and restrictions leading to a reduction in the supply of farm‐raised baitfish could drive anglers back to harvesting bait from natural waters, the very concern that initiated government support for baitfish culture a century ago.