The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana honored volunteer fish taggers throughout the state at the Louisiana Cooperative Marine Fish Tagging Program awards banquet on November 7, held at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans, La.
The program relies on a group of dedicated and well-trained volunteer taggers and honors those volunteer anglers who out-tagged their colleagues with 10 fish or more during the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
The anglers, who originally tag a fish get notification of the re-capture and a certificate of their achievement. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see a tag that I deployed come back,” said volunteer angler Jerrod J.W. Meche. “It’s a great feeling to catch and release these fish and to also know that my efforts could help better understand these species is amazing. It’s a highlight of my angling career.”
Volunteers tagged more than 10,102 fish during the year, and since the program began in the 1980s, over 161,000 have been tagged and of those nearly 5,100 have been recaptured.
“We’re pleased to recognize the dedication of our outstanding group of volunteer anglers who make the Tagging Program possible,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. “Each of these volunteers should be commended for their contributions to fisheries science and conservation.”
This year’s Tagger Award winners were:
Most Tagged Fish Overall
Joseph Ingram, 936 fish
Most Tagged Redfish
Ross Barkhurst, 924 redfish
Most Tagged Speckled Trout
Dr. Victor E. Tedesco, 785 speckled trout
Most Tagged Red Snapper
Andre Thomas, 70 red snapper
Most Tagged Yellowfin Tuna
Woody Woods, 17 yellowfin tuna
In addition, volunteers who tagged 100 fish or more were honored as members of the tagging program’s “Century Club.” Fourteen taggers received this distinction including Joseph Ingram, Ross Barkhurst, Dr. Victor E. Tedesco, Jeff Bavar, Bob Bateman, Clark Cormier, Andre Thomas, Pat Olivier, Kyle Leger, Diane and Norman Norton, Steve Fourrier, Jerrod J.W. Meche and Kenneth LeCompte.
“Citizen science is an essential component of this program,” explained LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina. “Anglers can take an active role in aiding biologists in the collection of important information which otherwise would not be possible. It is through the data collected from our tagging program that provides us with crucial information such as growth rates, longevity, migratory patterns and habitat utilization.”
One exciting thing the Department has learned through taggers’ data is there is a higher recapture rate for yellowfin tuna than any other species. This is a highly migratory species, so understanding the behavior of tuna is integral to so many aspects of improved practices and management.
The Louisiana Cooperative Marine Fish Tagging Program is a cooperative effort between the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana, universities, non-profit organizations and volunteer anglers. Program goals include educating anglers on fisheries management and conservation and opening communication between researchers and anglers.