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Turkish Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2013, Vol 13, Num, 5     (Pages: 881-896)

The Use of Electronic Tags in Fish Research – An Overview of Fish Telemetry Methods

Eva B. Thorstad 1-2 ,Audun H. Rikardsen 2 ,Ahmet Alp 3 ,Finn Økland 1

1 Norwegian Institute for nature Research, P.O. Box 5685 Sluppen, NO-7485 Trondheim, Norway
2 University of Tromsø, Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics, NO-9037 Tromsø
3 University of Kahramanmaraş Sütçü Imam, Department of Fisheries, Faculty of Agriculture, Kahramanmaraş, Turkey
DOI : 10.4194/1303-2712-v13_5_13 Viewed : 2426 - Downloaded : 6335 An overview of electronic tags that can be used in fish research is given, including radio and acoustic transmitters, data storage tags (DST, also termed archival tags), pop-up satellite archival tags (PSAT) and passive integrated transponder tags (PIT-tag). Fish telemetry is a term used to describe the application of these methods. Typically, an electronic tag is attached to a free-swimming fish, and information on position, movements and/or measurements of environmental and physiological parameters can be recorded wirelessly by use of a mobile receiver or stationary loggers. For most methods, the fish need not to be recaptured to achieve data. However, DSTs record and store information on environmental and/or physiological parameters in the tag, and therefore need to be retrieved for downloading data. In the case of PSATs, stored data is transferred to satellites when the tag loosens from the fish and pops up to the surface, and in addition, the pop up position is recorded. The developments of telemetry methods have provided opportunities to reveal previously unknown information on fish behavior, habitat use and migrations in fresh water, estuaries, near-coastal areas and oceans, especially since extensive longterm data can be collected repeatedly from individual fish. Detailed information on fish behaviour and migrations is needed to better understand, protect and manage fishes in freshwater and marine systems. The development of successful management measures depends on knowledge of where fish reside and migrate during the day, season and year. There has been a tremendous increase in the use of electronic tagging methods, especially during the last 10-20 years. In addition to descriptive and ecological studies, the methods have been used to assess effects of for instance hydropower production, other river regulations, migration barriers, protected areas, fishing regulations, catch-and-release angling, hatchery-rearing, fish aggregating devices (FADs), water pollution and aquaculture. The main methods for attaching electronic tags to fish are 1) surgical implantation in the body cavity, 2) external attachment, and 3) gastric insertion via the mouth. Potential negative handling effects are inflammations, infections, tag expulsion, altered behavior, decreased swimming performance, reduced feeding, reduced growth and increased mortality. The catch, handling and tagging procedures should have minimal effects on the fish. If not, an anomalous behaviour caused by the tagging may be recorded instead of the natural behaviour, and the study is a failure from a scientific point of view. Furthermore, optimal anaesthetic and tagging methods are required to meet the ethical standards for use of experimental animals, and to ensure fish survival and welfare. Keywords : Fish telemetry, electronic tags, tagging, fish migration, methods