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A Durban-based marine research body has tagged and released more than 180 fish in a recent expedition in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
The Oceanographic Research Institute’s (ORI) trip to Maphelana took place in early August.
According to the KZN Parks website the area is the southernmost camp in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and was a popular destination for ski boaters and surf anglers.
The institute’s scientists said via the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) Facebook page that a group of trained volunteer anglers participated in the exercise as part of the 74th iSimangaliso surf-zone fish monitoring and tagging trip.
“Despite rough seas and windy conditions, the team caught and released 361 fish during four days of fishing. Of these fish 187 were tagged and released and 28 tagged fish were recaptured.
These included 20 catface rockcod, four cavebass, three yellowbelly rockcod and one speckled snapper.”
Interestingly, they said, 17 recaptures had been from fish tagged during the trip, sometimes within 30 minutes of being tagged.
“This finding shows that good handling, such as using a wet cloth to handle fish and immediately placing landed fish into a bucket of fresh seawater to reduce air exposure, can ensure better survival of released fish.”
It also highlighted the importance of catch-and-release, particularly with reef fish, as many of them were slow-growing and “extremely resident”.
“By releasing fish you have caught you are ensuring that they have a chance of surviving and reproducing. You are also increasing the opportunity for other anglers to catch them, and who knows maybe even you may catch them again in years to come.”