Fish Tagging: What Is It and How Can You Help?

Studying Time: 5 minutes

Fish tagging has been gaining reputation for many years. Yearly, individuals tag and launch 1000’s of fish. They are often something from freshwater gamefish like Bass and Trout to bluewater pelagics like Marlin and Sharks. What have they got in widespread? After they swim off, we wish to know the place they go!

Most of what we find out about fish migrations comes from tagging packages. We’ve seen species journey farther and sooner than we ever thought potential. Different fish have been caught, tagged, and caught once more inside minutes. We’ve nonetheless acquired so much to study, although, and you may assist. Right here’s a short have a look at why and the way you must begin tagging fish, and what you should use to do it.

What’s Fish Tagging and Why Ought to I Care?

The primary half’s fairly easy: It’s if you connect a tag to a fish and launch it. What occurs after the fish swims off is determined by the kind of tag you’re utilizing (extra on that later). The purpose of tagging fish is to study extra about them. Historically, we had been in search of details about the place fish ended up. Today, we are able to additionally collect all types of knowledge about what they do alongside the way in which.

A tagged Mangrove Snapper being safely launched

Why must you get entangled? Effectively, governments depend on these knowledge to correctly defend fish populations. If you need your children to take pleasure in the identical superior angling you grew up with, serving to out with a tagging program may make all of the distinction.

There are lots extra causes to do it. Firstly, curiosity. Ever questioned what occurred that lunker Largemouth you launched final summer season? Should you’d tagged it, you may know. Secondly, cash! Quite a lot of packages provide money rewards for reporting one among their tags. You don’t even need to tag the fish your self to assist out.

Fish Tagging Tools

We’ve come a great distance because the days of tying ribbons onto Salmon. Advances in fish tagging and marking know-how have given us some severe tech. The primary varieties on the market are spaghetti tags, archival tags, PSATs, and SPOTs. Right here’s a rundown of what makes them particular.

What Are Spaghetti Tags?

“Typical” spaghetti tags are a chunk of robust plastic that you simply connect to the fish. They’ve an ID code on them which you register on-line after you launch the fish. As soon as another person catches it, they report the tag and you discover out the place your fish ended up. They’re low cost and straightforward to connect, so long as you learn the directions. Anybody should purchase and use them.

The issue with these entry-level kits is that they depend on an angler reporting the tag. You additionally don’t know what occurred between level A and level B. Due to this, they’re primarily used for inshore or freshwater species. They work very well when sufficient individuals use them, although, and so they nonetheless make up the lion’s share of tags on the market.

A newly-applied spaghetti tag (Wikimedia, Des Colhoun / CC BY-SA 2.0)

What Are Archival Tags?

These are a high-tech model of the usual spaghetti tag. They let you know the place a fish ended up, however additionally they collect data alongside the way in which. Archival tags can report location, water temperature, and depth because the fish travels. They’re not too costly and so they’re simply as straightforward to connect. The draw back? Identical to standard tags, you want somebody at hand it in to get the information.

A Bull Shark receiving an archival tag forward of its protected launch (Flikr, Doug Adams / CC BY-ND 2.0)

What Are PSATs?

Recapture tags are nice if fish don’t journey too far. However what about huge recreation pelagics that roam the entire planet? Can we anticipate an angler in England or India to mail a tag again? In fact not. In reality, barely 3% of standard Billfish tags ever present up once more. Enter the PSAT.

“Pop-up Satellite tv for pc Archival Tags” had been specifically designed for Billfish, Shark, and Tuna tagging. They report all the things a typical archival tag does and extra. After a selected period of time, they break off from the fish and transmit the information to a satellite tv for pc. You don’t want anybody at hand it in. That’s excellent news, as a result of PSATs can price 1000’s of {dollars}.

A Ray swimming off after getting tagged with a PSAT (Virginia Sea Grant / CC BY-ND 2.0)

What Are SPOT tags?

“Sensible Positioning or Temperature” tags seize a variety of knowledge each couple of minutes and transmit it at any time when the fish involves the floor. That is the slicing fringe of tagging know-how. SPOT tags are nice as a result of they’re not an entire bust in the event that they get destroyed. They’re additionally extra correct than pop-up tags.

The most typical use for SPOTs is Shark tagging. As any Hollywood fan can let you know, Sharks spend loads of time with their fins poking out of the water. This makes it simpler for a SPOT to transmit the information.

This Shark has been given some actual space-age tagging tech (Flikr, OCEARCH / CC BY 2.0)

Fish Tagging Applications

So what tags are for and the completely different gear on the market. Now it’s time to start out tagging! Listed here are just a few of the organizations you possibly can help.


The Worldwide Sport Fishing Affiliation is a powerful supporter of tag-and-release fishing. Their most profitable initiative is the Nice Marlin Race. That is an ongoing occasion the place Marlin launched at fishing tournaments “race” all over the world. Whichever one will get farthest wins. They use PSATs for correct knowledge and invite individuals to sponsor these costly tags.

The Billfish Basis

The Billfish Basis might be an important group relating to huge recreation tagging. They work with tournaments and constitution operators, tagging Marlin, Sailfish, Swordfish, and Spearfish. They’re accountable for virtually 1 / 4 of one million tagged Billfish. You may assist TBF by tagging your subsequent Marlin or donating to their efforts.

Grey FishTag Analysis

Specializing in “bridging the hole between skilled fishermen and science,” Grey FishTag Analysis works with 10,000 constitution captains across the US and past. They supply the charters with free tagging kits to encourage tag and launch. If you wish to get entangled, you possibly can donate, or be a part of this system and launch your personal tagged fish!

A crew tagging fish in collaboration with Grey FishTag Analysis

American Littoral Society

These guys have been at it because the ‘60s. Throughout that point, their members have tagged a staggering 640,000 fish. Today, American Littoral Society focuses on Striped Bass, Bluefish, and Summer time Flounder. ? All that you must do is join, purchase a fish tagging equipment, and get on the market.

And Extra!

In Florida, the FWC tags Snook, Cobia, Goliath Grouper, Sturgeon, and Largemouth Bass. Should you discover a tagged fish, report it! You may also get entangled your self by tagging Allow. It’s not simply Florida, although. Most states are at it. Examine along with your state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife for particular info.

Do you apply tag and launch? What packages or organizations do you’re employed with? Tell us within the feedback under, we’d love to listen to your tales!

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