Good fisheries management and conservation depends on developing good co-operation between users, managers and scientists. It also depends on the ability to undertake sound stock assessments of the resources being harvested in order to enable the development of rules that ensure sustainable use. The ORI/WWF-SA Tagging Project helps to achieve both these goals. The overall approach is to enlist conservation-conscious fishermen and women to voluntarily tag and release their catch, so generating critical scientific information on fish movement patterns, growth and fishing mortality. The Tony and Lisette Lewis Foundation (TLLF) have announced that they will provide funding for the next three years to ensure the continuation of this important project.
The Tagging Project was initiated by the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI) in 1984 and is one of the more successful collaborative environmental projects of its kind in South Africa. Information and data from the Tagging Project has been extensively used in numerous publications of both a scientific and popular nature. This project has played an extremely important role in influencing policy and decision-making on linefish management in South Africa. For example, research into the biology and stock assessment of important linefish species using tagging data, has greatly improved our knowledge and ability to manage our linefish resources. Furthermore, with the high profile of the tagging project, the concept of â€˜tag and releaseâ€™ has had a major impact in changing the ethics of the recreational fishing community, many of whom now release their fish.
The Tagging Project issues its members with special tagging kits which include small plastic dart tags which are inserted into the muscle of the fish below the dorsal fin using a hollow, needle-like applicator. Each tag has a unique number and a return address written on it, which is covered by a thin, transparent sheath. When a fish is tagged it should be landed quickly and handled very carefully to minimize stress and damage to the fish. Tagging members are provided with a detailed brochure explaining exactly how to do this in their tagging kits. The species of fish, tag number, length, date, locality and name of the angler are recorded on a special card and returned to ORI for capture onto a database. If a tagged fish is recaptured the same information should be recorded and sent through to ORI. The original tagger and the angler sending in the recapture information are then sent a printout with details of how long the fish has been at liberty, how far it has moved and how much it has grown.
To date (Jan 2006) 4243 members have joined the Tagging Project and, over the past 22 years, some 196 485 fish from 345 different species have been tagged and released. Of these, 10 257 tagged fish have been recaptured and reported to ORI, with an overall recapture rate of 5.2%.
ORI would like to express sincere gratitude to the TLLF and WWF-SA for providing ongoing funding for the Tagging Project. All active members of the Tagging Project are also thanked for their ongoing support and contribution towards the wise use and conservation of our marine linefish resources.
If you are interested in joining the Tagging Project we require that you are a committed, conservation-conscious angler that fishes regularly in the sea (please note this project is only for tagging marine fish and NOT freshwater species). Furthermore, you will be asked to send us a detailed letter of motivation before you are accepted as a member. This is to ensure that only committed anglers who are prepared to tag fish for the right reasons join the project. Once accepted as a member, the cost of your tagging kit will be R185 (note that this may be increased in 2007). You will also be given a list of priority fish species which we require tagging effort to be focused on. Remember, although tagging fish can be fun, it is actually part of a scientific process that needs to be done carefully and accurately with survival of the fish being of the utmost importance.
Interested anglers can write to:
The Tagging Officer
Oceanographic Research Institute
PO Box 10712 Marine Parade
email: email@example.com ,
*This information was kindly supplied by Mr Bruce Mann (Senior Scientist) at the Oceanographic Research Institute,http://www.ori.org.za