The PIER team initiated a multi-phase tagging project in 2007 that addresses several ecological and population level questions for the white seabass resource along California and Baja California, Mexico. The tagging efforts are extensive and utilize the knowledge and support from several generous individuals, including Tom Pfleger, Paxson Offield and the Catalina Seabass Fund team (John and Johny Talsky and Chase Offield), as well as Jock and Charlie Albright.
Each tagging team consists of seasoned seabass fishers that are well equipped and trained to perform the tagging surgery in under two minutes (watch the Catalina team tag and release a seabass). In order to ensure survivorship it is vital that the seabass are brought to the vessel quickly and that the time out of the water is minimized as much as possible. This often means that not every seabass that is caught is a good candidate for the tagging research.
Collectively, this project has deployed over 300 electronic tags in fish up to sixty five pounds. To date we have had recaptures from over a 700 nautical mile stretch, spanning from San Francisco to Punta Baja, Mexico. Recaptured fish have been taken by all of the southern California fishery demographics, ranging from spear fishers and kayakers to net fishers.
Recapture rates vary slightly from year to year, but seem to hover around 20%, a value that suggests high fishing pressure on the stock. The findings from the first phase of this work are being prepared for publication in early 2013.
We are thankful for the support we have received from all participants and look forward to another productive tagging season.
Chairman Tom Pfleger tagging a white seabass at Catalina Island