Semester of Graduation
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences
Crawfish are found throughout the southern U.S.; however, Louisiana is by far the largest producer. The state’s industry includes harvesting wild crawfish from natural habitats such as bayous, swamps, and marshes, and crawfish reared in outdoor ponds. Although commercial harvest records are available, characterization of Louisiana’s wild capture crawfish fishery in recent years is undocumented, and analysis of environmental variables that could be correlated with annual harvest totals have not yet been explored. Using trip ticket data from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, I characterized monthly and annual trends within Louisiana basins to assess changes in crawfish harvest over the past 20 years. To understand the wild harvest fishery through changes in hydrological conditions within the Atchafalaya Basin, where more than 80% of wild harvest occurs, I used a linear regression to look at the effects of Atchafalaya River discharge and monthly precipitation accumulation on monthly crawfish harvest from 1999–2020 during months of peak harvest.
Louisiana’s crawfish industry is comprised of two unique yet similar components: wild harvest and pond production. Research on crawfish biology and improved methods for pond production has been ongoing since the early 1960’s. Challenges within the crawfish aquaculture industry are documented but of most recent concern is the emergence of white spot syndrome virus (WSSV). WSSV possesses the ability to create mass mortality outbreaks with little notice to farmers. Outbreaks often present in multiple conditions and can be hard to quantify. While white spot syndrome virus was first documented in Louisiana crawfish ponds in 2007, recorded laboratory testing that provides spatial and temporal outbreak data are available beginning in 2020. To better understand WSSV and the challenges it presents within Louisiana’s crawfish industry, I used data from the Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab on positive testing ponds. In addition, I recorded pond temperature to assess spatial and temporal trends to better understand the effect of environmental variables on a viral outbreak.
Gambill, Mahala G., "Assessing the Current State of Louisiana's Crawfish Fishery: Trends and Challenges in Wild Capture and Aquaculture" (2022). LSU Master's Theses. 5653.