Journal Article

A pilot tagging experiment on European hake (<i>Merluccius merluccius</i>): methodology and preliminary results

Hélène de Pontual, Michel Bertignac, André Battaglia, Gérard Bavouzet, Philippe Moguedet and Anne-Laure Groison

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 60, issue 6, pages 1318-1327
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1054-3139(03)00149-8
A pilot tagging experiment on European hake (Merluccius merluccius): methodology and preliminary results

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European hake (Merluccius merluccius) were caught alive in the northern Bay of Biscay in June/July 2002, using a codend specially designed to avoid crushing fish and also to retain water while hauling the trawl. In all, 1307 fish were tagged with anchor T-bar tags, injected with tetracycline, then released. The length range of the tagged and marked fish varied from 13 to 58 cm, and the modal size was 28 cm, at which length they were assumed to be 2–3 years old. A mean survival rate of 68.2% was estimated. Mortality was mainly caused by stress of capture and physical damage, and depended on the size of the catch and the depth of trawling. By the end of March 2003, 32 fish and three tags had been returned to the laboratory (a 2.7% return rate), the recapture data indicating that the probability of survival after release does not depend on catch depth or depth at location of release. For combined sexes, the somatic growth rate was estimated at 0.033 ± 0.019 cm day−1 (n=15). Males and females did not differ significantly in somatic growth rate, which were, respectively, 0.028±0.018 (n=6) and 0.033 ± 0.012 cm day−1 (n=6). This pilot experiment represents the first recorded mass tagging of European hake, which is known to be a very fragile species. The preliminary results indicate that it would be possible to carry out a large-scale tagging experiment of the European stocks in order to improve assessment and subsequent management decisions.

Keywords: European hake; fishing gear; growth; migration; tagging

Journal Article.  4869 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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