2003/09/23 Tagging Study Nets Ten Percent Tag Returns in First Year

photos at bottom of page


 

Tagging Study Nets

10% Returns

in First Year

 

 

Contact:

Gary Shepherd, NOAA
508 495-2368

NR03.14

NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center

N         E         W         S

Tagging Study Nets Ten Percent Tag Returns in First Year

Woods Hole, Mass. -- Nearly 600 fishermen have called in to report recapture of black sea bass tagged and released over the past year in a large-scale project to better understand abundance, distribution and harvest of these unusual fish. More than 6,000 of the fish have been tagged since September 2002.

This month, organizers plan to start tagging and releasing 5,000 more black sea bass throughout their northern range. The project is a joint effort of federal and state scientists with commercial and recreational fishermen.

“Fishermen have been very responsive to the program,” says Gary Shepherd, NOAA Fisheries biologist in charge of the project. “This is important, since recovering tags is the key to our improved understanding of sea bass migrations, and speaking directly with fishermen is key to learning from their experiences.”

Information from the tagging project will help fishery biologists improve stock assessments used to manage the fisheries, as well as provide information about black sea bass growth rates, migration, and harvest rates in commercial and recreational fisheries.

The tags are thin orange or red tubes, 3.5 inches long, and extend from the fish’s abdomen. Fishermen are asked to remove the tags and call the telephone number on the tag to report tag number, date and location of recapture (lat/long or Loran C preferred), total length, and the gear type used.

Fishermen are asked to avoid scraping tags encrusted with algae; scraping may remove the information printed on the tags. Gentle rubbing should be sufficient to remove the growth and preserve the legibility of the print. Returned tags net the finders a hat for orange tags, and $100 for red tags.

Tagged fish are at least three-years old, and include both legal and sub-legal sizes. Participating states include: Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

The project focuses on the northern stock of black sea bass, distributed from Cape Hatteras to Massachusetts Bay. Generally, the fish are found inshore from May to October where they are harvested in a commercial pot fishery and in commercial and recreational rod-and-reel fisheries. From October to April, the fish move offshore where they are targeted by commercial fishermen using trawl gear. Spawning begins in March off North Carolina and occurs progressively later (until October) farther north.

Most black sea bass begin life as females and later transform into males. Transformation from female to male generally occurs between ages 2 and 5. Females are rarely found older than 8 years, while males may live up to 15 years. Black sea bass are omnivorous, feeding on crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, fish, and plants.

This tagging study is funded by federal programs intended to improve use of fishery resources and their management through cooperative research, including NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Initiative (MARFIN). State and federal agencies provide the people and materials necessary for the tag and release, but recaptures depend upon the commercial and recreational fishermen of participating areas.

Visit the study’s website: http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/read/popdy/blackseabass-tagging/

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Initial capture of some black sea bass in “pot” gear deployed by commercial fishermen cooperating with NOAA Fisheries, as part of a joint research project among federal and state governments and commercial and recreational fishermen to better understand black sea bass abundance, distribution, and harvest.

“Orange” version (other version is red) of tube (“spaghetti”) tag used to mark black sea bass for identification upon subsequent recapture, as part of a joint research project among federal and state governments and commercial and recreational fishermen to better understand black sea bass abundance, distribution, and harvest.

Surgery by NOAA Fisheries scientist on black sea bass to attach tube tag to ventral portion of body, as part of a joint research project among federal and state governments and commercial and recreational fishermen to better understand black sea bass abundance, distribution, and harvest.

Black sea bass with tube tag attached, as part of a joint research project among federal and state governments and commercial and recreational fishermen to better understand black sea bass abundance, distribution, and harvest.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources scientists observing freshly tagged black sea bass in “holding” tank to ensure that the fish have fully recovered from tag-implanting surgery before their release back into the ocean, as part of a joint research project among federal and state governments and commercial and recreational fishermen to better understand black sea bass abundance, distribution, and harvest.

NOAA Fisheries scientists recording essential data (tag number, recapture location, any growth since tag attached, etc.) on black sea bass recaptured aboard cooperating recreational fishing party boat, as part of a joint research project among federal and state governments and commercial and recreational fishermen to better understand black sea bass abundance, distribution, and harvest.


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(File Modified Apr. 26 2005)