Evaluation of a simple technique for recovering fish from capture stress: integrating physiology, biotelemetry, and social science to solve a conservation problem

Michael R. Donaldson, Graham D. Raby, Vivian N. Nguyen, Scott G. Hinch, David A. Patterson, Anthony P. Farrell, Murray Alan Rudd, Lisa A. Thompson, Constance M. O'Connor, Alison H. Colotelo, Sarah H. McConnachie, Katrina V. Cook, David Robichaud, Karl K. English, Steven J. Cooke

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We evaluate the utility of an inexpensive, portable recovery bag designed to facilitate recovery of fish from capture stress by combining physiological assays, biotelemetry, and social science surveys. Adult migrating Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) were used as a model, since some of their populations are threatened. While catch-and-release is common, there is a need to ensure that it is sustainable. A social science survey revealed that anglers generally have positive attitudes towards recovery bag use, particularly if research identifies that such techniques could be effective. Physiological assays on pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) revealed benefits of both high- and low-velocity recovery, but high velocity was most effective with reduced plasma cortisol concentrations and similar plasma sodium and chloride concentrations as those found in controls at all recovery durations. A biotelemetry study on sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) captured by anglers and stressed by air exposure then placed in recovery bags had 20% higher, but not significantly different, survival than no-recovery salmon. The integration of natural science and social science provides an important step forward in developing methods for promoting recovery of fish from capture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-100
Number of pages11
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number1
Early online date1 Jan 2013
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2013

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