Promoting and encouraging environmental education, conservation and research, the Tindale Trust has introduced this citizen science inshore fish tagging programme to support sustainable fishing practices and help tomorrow's generations make better informed decisions.
Globally the public has always been a great source of information. Scientists established early that seafarers, fishermen and fishing records were invaluable to helping scientific institutions worldwide in their research, finding new species, supplying specimens and reporting observations.
Tagging is a useful tool that has been extensively used around the world in obtaining quantitative and quality information on fish stocks and aspects of management since the early 20th century. These programmes are routinely used to individually identify fish in order to acquire information on growth, movements and to provide estimates of population size and natural mortality. Knowing the biology of the fish, how productive they are, how fast they grow, where or how far they go is vital to the conservation and management of marine species.
The Tindale Marine Research Charitable Trust inshore tagging programme is a citizen science project open to all marine fishers throughout New Zealand.
Tagging is inserting a small non-invasive serial numbered tag into the back of a fish next to its dorsal fin. The fish is photographed and the catch details are recorded. The tagging is carried out quickly and methodically so that there is little or no stress to the fish ensuring a high survival rate and little or no change in the behaviour of the fish when released. When the fish is recaptured it is re-measured and all of the catch details are recorded again along with any comments. Growth rate and displacement can be calculated seasonally.
The information collected can monitor any changes over time caused by sea temperature changes, natural and human impacts. Harvesting demographics can be accessed by the recapture make up. There are over 45 species currently in the programme since inception in 2018. The recapture rate is steady at around 1:22 with a third re-released again and several recaptured multiple times.
Public Interest in the health of our fishery has increased in recent years but we still face massive knowledge gaps of many of the marine species. Much of what we know is out of date. Environmental factors including climate change, acidification from runoff, pollution, urban development, population increases and consumer demand and legislative policies all impact marine life, highlighting the need for additional & continuous research monitoring ongoing situations. More than ever there is a need for a well-managed fish tagging programme inclusive of all sectors, recreational, commercial and customary, working together to collect much needed data in real time supporting the fishery that New Zealanders are so passionate about, highlighting any downward trends early. Fishermen are really good at going out & finding fish, but to understand and track population trends we all need to do our part.
The members of the Tindale Trust feel that including the public in marine research projects collating and sharing academic and citizen science findings while promoting sustainable initiatives will benefit all of New Zealand’s inhabitants both on land and in the sea. The Trust’s initiatives hope to help bridge that gap.
For anyone wishing to participate in this citizen science program, comprehensive tagging kits are available at or below cost from the trust website and selected retail stores. Tutorial videos on “how to” tag and release common inshore fish species can be viewed online and on our social media pages. For regular quarterly updates check out their Newsletter on the website. More information on the Tindale Trust Tagging Programme can also be found on the website and in this document.