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#07-66 March 5, 2007

Tagging program benefits from angler community

South Carolina’s Marine Game Fish Tagging Program is a useful partnership among cooperative anglers and scientists to track information on important species where additional data is needed.

Last year, Gary DenBraven, a trained cooperative angler from Surfside Beach, received theTagged red drum conservation award from S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Marine Game Fish Tagging Program coordinators for the most tagged fish over the course of the year. DenBraven tagged 254 fish, a notable accomplishment in which all were caught and released from the Surfside Pier.

DenBraven tagged mostly small coastal sharks, such as Atlantic sharpnose and smooth dogfish. His efforts will provide an opportunity for anglers to catch the tagged species and report information to DNR. Information reported on DenBraven’s tagged fish would provide greater insight into spawning activities of small coastal sharks, as South Carolina waters are suitable areas for this type of activity.

Anglers can call 1-888-TAGS-4SC (1-888-824-7472) to report a tagged fish. Information may also be mailed to DNR, Marine Game Fish Tagging Program, PO Box 12559, Charleston, SC 29422-2559.
The DNR Marine Game Fish Tagging program, in existence since 1974, thrives on cooperation from the angling community to tag, release, record and report important information about many species of marine game fish. Anglers have provided fisheries biologists with DNR valuable information such as population dynamics, growth rates and movement patterns for many species. Information that otherwise would not be obtained by biologists alone is reported to the DNR by cooperating anglers.

Program coordinators distributed more than 7,000 dart tags last year to trained anglers who actively participate in workshops to learn proper application and handling techniques for tagging fish. Keeping trained anglers to a small and manageable size has allowed DNR to develop a corps of trained volunteer taggers, alleviating problems with inaccurate data reporting and improper handling techniques.

The dart tags bear the Marine Game Fish Tagging Program address, phone number and identification number, enabling anglers to report information about their catch. If a tagged fish is caught, anglers are encouraged to record the tag number, measure and record the total length of fish, re-release the fish with tag in place, record date, location and species, and report the recapture to the DNR.

Information has been obtained on 44 percent of the tags that were distributed last year through angler efforts to report catches. The majority of the information reported to the DNR has come from anglers in the Charleston area. Anglers from all coastal areas are encouraged to report tagging recaptures as this partnership continues to help minimize data gaps for priority marine game species.

Priority species in which DNR is interested in obtaining additional information from angler catches include: all species in snapper/grouper complex, billfish, black drum, bluefish, cobia, dolphin, flounder (summer and Southern), jack crevalle, king mackerel, shark, tarpon, tuna, wahoo and weakfish.
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