Help scientists tag bass

June 17, 2013
Media Contact— Caitlin Coomber / ccoomber@ucsd.edu / 858-534-0580

Calling all anglers. Here is your chance to go fishing in a marine reserve and help marine biologists learn more about some of the region’s most popular sport fishes, including calico bass, barred sand bass and spotted sand bass.

The Brice Semmens laboratory at UCSD will be conducting two bass tagging trips aboard the Sea Watch on June 17 and June 20 in the normally no-fishing areas of  the La Jolla Cove, as part of a two-year Coastal Angler Tagging Cooperative project, funded by the Ocean Protection Council’s Collaborative Fisheries Research West and administered by California Sea Grant.

The project’s goal is to get anglers to help collect data that is essential to managing local saltwater bass fisheries and protecting sport fishing. Anglers tag and release fish and are asked to report any tagged fish they catch later. All this will help scientists estimate bass population sizes, their mortality rates and movement patterns from La Jolla to Imperial Beach, as well as in Long Beach and Orange County.

Scientists charter local three-quarter-day sportfishing boat trips and invite anyone to come out for free on “tag-and-release-only” trips.

Check out cooperativefishtagging.org and the Coastal Angler Tagging Cooperative Facebook page.

For those curious to learn more about the project, here’s a more technical summary that also includes contact information.

Mortality and Population Abundance of Three Species of Paralabrax off San Diego

R/OPCCFRW-3 Jul. 2012–Jun. 2014
Brice Semmens, UCSD/SIO, 858.822.0518, bsemmens@ucsd.edu
Ed Parnell, UCSD/SIO, 858.822.2701, eparnell@ucsd.edu

In this project, anglers will catch, tag and release calico bass and barred sand bass on chartered sportfishing trips to select sites inside and outside the new South Coast marine protected areas (MPAs), as well as during catch-and-release sportfishing tournaments. Besides tagging fish, anglers will record fish size, the gears used to catch fish and evidence of  pressure-induced injuries (barotrauma), among other things. Bass are also being put in pens and observed to estimate mortality rates from catch-and-release practices. Private boat owners will help researchers catch, tag and release spotted bay bass, which reside in bays. In addition to the angler data, about 50 barred sand bass will be caught at a spawning aggregation in the new South La Jolla Marine Reserve, surgically implanted with acoustic tags, and tracked via a deployed listening array for up to a year. Data will be used to study fish movement patterns, including “spill over” from MPAs, and to estimate spawning biomasses and mortality rates from predation, fishing and catch-and-release. Because ultimately the success of this project hinges on the ability to educate and motivate anglers to report found tags, a major focus of the project is to broadly engage recreational fishers on why the research is needed, valuable and will ultimately benefit the sport fishery by ensuring its long-term sustainability.

About California Sea Grant

NOAA’s California Sea Grant College Program funds marine research, education and outreach throughout California. Our headquarters is at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego; we are one of 33 Sea Grant programs in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.