Satellite SBT survival study

STATE-of-the art satellite tag technology is being used to determine the fate of southern bluefin tuna (SBT) caught and released by recreational anglers.

Led by the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), the post-release survival study is intended to lead to improved fish-handling techniques by recreational angers, as well as assess the effectiveness of current recreational regulations, which rely on individual possession limits.

Research leader Dr Sean Tracey said the popularity of recreational fishing for SBT had increased considerably in recent years, particularly in southern Tasmania.

“It is important to understand not only how many fish are being harvested by the recreational sector but also to understand what happens to the fish that are released, either due to catch limits being reached or fishers engaging in catch-and-release fishing,” he said.

Dr Tracey said that collaborative international management arrangements, in which Australia was a major player, had led to a recovering trend in the population of SBT.

“This recovery relies on good data on the harvest of the species… it is important to understand all aspects of mortality to the species, including those that might occur during recreational fishing, such as post-release mortality.”

Dr Tracey is also a co-investigator on a separate project to estimate the recreational harvest of SBT in Australia, as reported in Fisho last week.

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