Recaptures justify tagging effort

Image: Patrick Linehan

NSW DPI’s gamefish tagging program is proving its worth judging by two recent recaptures.

NSW DPI Recreational Fisheries Manager Phil Bolton said “We’re very excited about these recaptures, it proves that fish are capable of traveling very long distances. Movements have been recorded across oceanic equators and even from one ocean to another.”

The first tagged fish recapture was a yellowtail kingfish that had been tagged near Eden, in NSW, in the winter of 2006.

“It was recaptured 1170 nautical miles (straight line distance) and 873 days later off Mangawhai Heads Beach on New Zealand’s north east coast. This is only the third record of a kingfish traveling from Australia across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand waters.” said Bolton.

A blue marlin was also recaptured, seven years and seventy one days after it was tagged, in the Huon Gulf, Papua New Guinea in January 2002. The marlin was recaptured by a commercial boat, fishing near a Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) near Pulau Fani, Indonesia in April. It had travelled a minimum of 1076 nautical miles, in the process more than doubling the previous record of longest time at liberty for blue marlin – the previous record was three years and two months. The marlin was caught by an artisanal fisherman using a hand line fishing next to an anchored FAD.

“We’re pleased that the fisherman reported the recapture, especially one as significant as this.

“Blue marlin have a very low recapture rate, because they tend to be highly migratory and spend more time in deep oceanic waters, with only 18 recaptured since 1973.” said Bolton.

The NSW DPI Game Fish Tagging program is the largest saltwater tagging program of its kind in the world, with more than 350,000 fish tagged since 1973. he Program continues to issue tags free of charge to participants and is funded by the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust.

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