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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 81:127-134 (2008)  -  DOI:

Mortality and physical damage of angled-and-released dusky flathead Platycephalus fuscus

Paul A. Butcher1,*, Matt K. Broadhurst1, Stuart C. Cairns2

1New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Fisheries Conservation Technology Unit, PO Box J321, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales 2450, Australia
2Zoology, School of Environmental and Rural Sciences, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales 2351, Australia

ABSTRACT: We completed 2 experiments to quantify the mortality and physical damage (fin, blood and scale loss) of angled dusky flathead Platycephalus fuscus during a live weigh-in tournament (Expt 1) and after being immediately released by anglers (Expt 2). In each experiment, 84 and 79 angled P. fuscus were placed into up to 6 replicate tanks and, along with appropriate numbers of controls, monitored for mortalities over 5 d. Five and 7 of the angled fish died within 12 h, providing mortalities of 3.6 and 8.9% in Expts 1 and 2, respectively. One control fish died, which was attributed to an incorrectly inserted tag. None of the continuous or categorical variables collected during angling and subsequent release, or the experimental design, could explain the few observed mortalities to treatment fish. However, knotted large-mesh landing nets caused significantly greater fin damage than knotless fine-mesh designs in both experiments (p < 0.05). Furthermore, although water quality had no measured impact on the confined fish, the samples taken from anglers’ live wells (mostly for Expt 1) were significantly poorer than the environment from which the fish were caught (p < 0.05). These latter differences may have had a cumulative negative impact on fish that manifested as the observed deaths. Simple changes to the post-capture handling of P. fuscus, involving appropriate landing nets and live wells, should reduce some angling impacts on this species.

KEY WORDS: Dusky flathead · Platycephalus fuscus · Catch-and-release · Water quality · Live well · Handling method · Anglers

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Cite this article as: Butcher PA, Broadhurst MK, Cairns SC (2008) Mortality and physical damage of angled-and-released dusky flathead Platycephalus fuscus. Dis Aquat Org 81:127-134.

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