June 15, 2015
This is Fish Radio. I’m Stephanie Mangini. Tracking toddler halibut. I’ll tell you more after this…
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In May researchers began tagging young halibut in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. The main focus is to collect data of their movement and growth.
“Although we have done a lot of tagging over the years we haven’t done a lot of tagging with the smallest category of juveniles that we encounter; and by the smallest I mean the 15 to 45 centimeter range, which is what a lot of the juveniles in the Eastern Bering Sea are.”
Bruce Leaman is the International Pacific Halibut Comission’s Executive Director-
“Part of understanding and solving the bycatch issue, is knowing a lot more about what the distribution and movement rates of the juveniles are. We know a fair amount about the fact that juvenile do migrate out of the Bering Sea but we don’t know very much about the rates.”
Studies of young halibut were done throughout the 1970’s to early 90’s, but Leaman says that research was more localized. Now they are casting a much bigger net.
“The benefit of doing it on the NMFS trawl surveys is that they have a standard set of stations that are widely spaced out so we will be able to tag fish in a lot of different locations.”
So far about one thousand halibut have been tagged in the Gulf, and eight hundred in the Bering Sea. They hope to have two thousand tagged by August.
“What we are trying to do is figure out if we can tag these things with any kind of facility, what kind of condition they are in, and whether or not it’s worthwhile for us to try and think about doing this on a much bigger scale.”
If you catch a tag the IPHC has port samplers from Dutch Harbor to Petersburg. Each tag has a unique number and contact information.
“The first option is to phone the commission itself if you get a tag or provide one to our port samplers, which is really good because then they can sample them.”
Learn more at the IPHC website and find links at www.alaskafishradio.com.
Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, serving Alaska’s fishing communities since 1910. On the web at www.oceanbeauty.com – In Kodiak, I’m Stephanie Mangini.