The Virginia Fish Tagging Program is not a regulatory position, but one designed to help anglers, Susanna Musick said June 11.
Speaking at a Discovery Lab for children and their parents on at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, Musick is the principal investigator for the tagging program. She is a marine recreation specialist for the Virginia Sea Grant Marine Extension Program based at VIMS.
The program is basically capped at 10 species now because of funding and manpower, Musick said. It would not be successful, she said, without the many dedicated volunteers who help tag 10 specific species.
The tagging program can be modified if necessary, Musick said, explaining that a few years back weakfish were dropped because so few were tagged and then recaptured; that species was replaced by summer flounder. Other species currently being tagged are cobia, red drum, triggerfish, speckled trout, spadefish, sheepshead, black sea bass, black drum and tautog.
Tagging select fish helps researchers gather more information about the habits and movement patterns of the fish, Musick said. She added that tagged fish have been retrieved years after first being tagged here, such as a fish caught in the Gulf of Mexico off Mississippi’s coast eight years later.
Sport fishermen are urged to look for tags in their catch, as their retrieval is important to researchers, Musick said. Virginia uses a system which repeats the number sequence so that a piece of the original tag can be broken off to be submitted in case you don’t happen to have a way to write down the information.