Last week seven winners were announced for the 2018 sablefish tag recovery drawing and lottery. Fish managers are gearing up for another round of tagged fish releases next month. Hook a sablefish with a bright orange or green tag and turn in to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for prizes and next year’s lottery.
“First of all, we have an instant reward that we give people for returning tags. So this could be processors, this can be the public or fishermen. They get a T-shirt, and that seems to be very popular.”
Noami Bargmann works with the groundfish project and is a fish tech for ADF&G.
“The T-shirts are this iconic fish and game rewards that are quite coveted, and you see people wearing them all over town.”
When a tag is turned in it is a huge help to the Department’s study.
“It does not matter if you have any information or not that is not ideal on our part, but I do try to get as much information from people as possible. Such as the day that they got it, the area, what method they were using; long line, rod and reel, or where you sport fishing or commercial fishing.”
A tag turned in with more detailed information is entered into the annual lottery with a chance of winning $250 to $1000.
“For the lottery that is a huge incentive to get us even more data. To qualify for the lottery, you need to have the lat/longs associated with where you caught the fish and the date captured, and of course the tag itself. It helps us pinpoint exactly where we got that tag and when.”
The purpose of the Southeast study is to research movement and abundance of the species. The farthest north sablefish caught was around St. Mathews Island and the farthest fish south was near Humboldt California. Bargmann says a majority of them do not travel at all.
“You have your sablefish that are like I love my home, I’m just going to stay here; that is about 85 to 90 percent of the fish that we get in Chatham, they stay. Then you get 10 to 14 percent of them that will pick up like Magellan and go explore other places.”
In 2013, one of the oldest tags was returned; the 34-year-old tag was from 1979 when the tagging survey started. This May 7,000 more tags were released, making a total of over 140,000 tags deployed in all; nearly 35,000 tags have been recovered.
Call the number on the tag or go to www.adfg.alaska.gov.