As a result of these studies, leaders in the industry have initiated groundbreaking changes to their procedures so that more fish will survive and be in better physiological condition following angling tournaments.
Over the past several decades sport fishing tournaments have moved toward the practice of releasing fish, alive and unharmed, at the end of each event. But until now there has been little scientific evidence for designing the most effective "live release" procedures. With funding from Shimano Canada Ltd. and a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Development grant, Dr. Tufts and his Queen's team have discovered new ways to improve handling procedures for fish at tournaments, which will set key benchmarks in this area.
"There's a growing awareness in fisheries management that people can enjoy the sport in a way that is ecologically responsible," says Dr. Tufts. "In our lab at Queen's we are working with important fresh water species, such as bass and walleye, to determine the physiological impact of catch and release fishing, and devise ways to ensure survival of the maximum number of fish."
Dr. Tufts' research into "Physiological Changes in Largemouth Bass Caused by Live-Release Angling Tournaments in Southeastern Ontario" is featured in the current issue of the North American Journal of Fisheries Management.
Experiments conducted by Dr. Tufts' research group have identified that the weigh-in process at the end of these events is one of the most critical times for fish caught by tournament anglers. Throughout the traditional weigh-in procedure, potential dangers to fish arise from their confinement in water-filled bags while waiting to be weighed, as well as their exposure to
Contact: Nancy Dorrance