DFW: Tagged fish program needs fishermen’s help

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THE Division of Fish and Wildlife needs the help of fishermen in an ongoing research on the movement, population, and growth rate of fish in the Saipan lagoon.

DFW fisheries supervisor Mike Tenorio, fisheries biologist Trey Dunn, and federal program coordinator Gina Tomokane were at the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library on Dec. 21 to discuss the tagged fish program.

Tenorio said the program has been around since 2014, but some fishermen have caught tagged fish and did not report it to the DFW office because they were not aware of the program.

Dunn said about 1,000 fish — emperor and unicorn — were tagged.

He added that the data they are collecting include the fish weight — to determine the growth rates; where it was caught — to determine whether the fish moved or stayed in one place; and an estimate of the fish population.

So far, only five tagged fish have been reported to DFW.

Dunn said they tagged around 700 emperor fish, but only got a few tag returns in the beginning. “This leads us to believe that there are a lot of those fish and the total number is really big; it could be millions. If we only tagged 700 fish out of a million then the likelihood of seeing that tagged fish is really low.”

Dunn said of the five tagged returns obtained by DFW, four were caught by one fisherman in the same place.

This may indicate that a school of fish stayed in or returned to the area where they were tagged, he added.

It tells us that the population in that spot is a little smaller because we are getting tagged returns quickly,” Dunn said.

Tenorio said the fishermen’s information about the tagged fish will give DFW a better understanding of how the fish behaves.

DFW is giving away a free T-shirt to anyone who can bring information about a tagged fish they caught. Fishermen will also be eligible to a raffle draw.

The tags are pink and can be found on the upper side of the fish near the rear of the top fin.

For more information about the program, call the DFW fisheries section at 664-6044.

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