Survival of Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) following catch-and-release angling
Ferter, K and Rikardsen, AH and Evensen, TH and Svenning, M-A and Tracey, SR, Survival of Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) following catch-and-release angling, Fisheries Research, 186, (Part 3) pp. 634-641. ISSN 0165-7836 (2017) [Refereed Article]
Catch-and-release (C&R) of Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) has been heavily debated as a management strategy to reduce fishing mortality of this species while maintaining angling opportunities in Norwegian recreational fisheries. However, little information exists on what proportion of the fish survive post release. To test if C&R affects short- and long-term survival of Atlantic halibut, halibut (>120 cm; N = 11) were caught on angling gear using commonly used fishing lures, and tagged with both pop-up satellite archival tags (PSATs) and acoustic transmitters. Survival was determined by the vertical migration patterns of individuals measured by the tags during individual monitoring periods ranging from 3 to 248 days (median 80 days) after the C&R event. No short-term mortality was observed post release. In terms of long-term survival, eight halibut were confirmed to have survived the monitoring periods while one halibut had insufficient data. For the other two individuals, the acoustic transmitters showed a cessation of vertical movement after 38 and 44 days, which could neither be verified nor disproven by the PSAT recordings (due to earlier detachment and tag malfunction of the PSATs). Since premature tag shedding was frequent in this study, it cannot be concluded if the cessation of vertical movement was because of tag shedding or delayed mortality. The results of this study indicate that Atlantic halibut is resilient to C&R angling, and that C&R of Atlantic halibut may be an effective management strategy to reduce fishing-induced mortality. However, the effects of severe hooking injuries, impacts on smaller individuals, and potential sublethal consequences of C&R were not covered in this study, and are still poorly understood. To minimize negative impacts of C&R and to promote fish welfare, fisheries managers are encouraged to implement best practice C&R angling guidelines for Atlantic halibut.