National Marine Fisheries Service scientists from NOAA's Auke Bay Laboratory began tagging sablefish in 1998 in an effort to learn more about sablefish behavior in the sea, and the marine environmental conditions in which they live. Fishermen can help in the research and earn a $500 reward by recovering the electronic tags found inside of the fish and sending them to Michael Sigler, project scientist at Auke Bay Laboratory.
"We will learn about the daily, seasonal, and age-related depth movements of sablefish from recovery of these tags," said Sigler. "Knowledge of these movements will help us understand what part of the population is susceptible to the fishery, how this changes through the life of the fish, and in turn will help us better recommend sustainable harvests."
Tagged fish can be identified by a three inch long florescent green and pink tag, which reads "Reward for Depth Sensor Inside Fish" and is located near the first dorsal fin of the fish. Electronic tags, measuring 3/4 inch diameter by 2 1/4 inch long, are surgically implanted in the abdominal cavity of sablefish.
Of the 195 sablefish tagged and released during the 1998 sablefish longline survey in the Aleutian Islands region and Gulf of Alaska, one has been recovered. Released on June 5, 1998, the 4-year old fish was recovered 57 days later, two nautical miles south of the release site in the Aleutian Islands. Data retrieved from the electronic tag reveals the fish remained at temperatures from 38 to 39 degrees Fahrenheit and ranged over depths of 200 to 300 fathoms.
Fishermen may report a recovered tag by calling collect (907)789-6037, or mailing it to Michael Sigler, National Marine Fisheries Service, Auke Bay Laboratory, 11305 Glacier Hwy, Juneau, Alaska 99801.
The National Marine Fisheries Service is an agency of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NMFS conducts scientific research and service in support of protected species and fisheries management, enforcement, and habitat conservation programs.