Cod Study Reveals Important Catch-and-Release Data

A school of cod swim near a shipwreck . Photo/NOAA
A school of cod swim near a shipwreck . Photo/NOAA

According to the Cape Cod Times, a recent study led by a biologist at the New England Aquarium has been attempting to account for the mortality of undersized cod and other groundfish in the Gulf of Maine that are released by recreational fishermen. In 2013, researchers performed a survey that involved planting acoustic tags in cod that were caught and released by recreational fishermen off Gloucester, MA. Over 700 cod were caught and 130 were fitted with the specialized tags, which emitted a signal that was unique to each fish.

The tagged cod were released in an area that featured a submerged field of receivers to track their movements and determine if the fish survived or died.

The researchers also recorded information about the anglers who were catching and unhooking the fish, as they wanted to know what effect handling had on fish mortality.

The researchers found that the experience of the fisherman, the type of gear used, and environmental conditions all factor into whether cod survive after release. Cod released by experienced fishermen who could land the fish quickly and get the fish back in the water with minimal handling time stood the best chance of survival. Temperature also played a role, as fish caught on very hot days had an increased mortality rate.

A more important result of the study is that it showed a reduction in mortality estimates for recreational fishing, from 30% to 15%.

Read more about the study involving recreational fishing mortality on cod and other groundfish.