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NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-AFSC-320

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Feasibility of tagging sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, with pop-off satellite tags in the northeast Pacific Ocean


Recent advances in satellite tagging technologies have provided scientists more opportunities to study movement and behavior of fishes independent of tag recovery. Until recently, this type of tagging was limited to large pelagic fish, sharks, and whales. Miniaturization of computer technology and improved batteries has allowed smaller tags to be developed, thus allowing for tagging of smaller-sized fish species. In addition, the use of magnetic field readings to estimate geolocations has introduced the ability to track deep-dwelling, high-latitude species that cannot use light for location estimates. A high-latitude demersal fish known for extensive movement throughout its life history is the commercially valuable sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria. This species has been tagged using fishery-dependent anchor and archival tags, but due to the large size of satellite tags, fishery-independent tagging methods have not been used. Thus, studies of daily or seasonal movement, and critical life history movements such as towards spawning habitats, have not been possible. This paper discusses the feasibility, methods, and initial results of satellite-tagging sablefish in Alaska.

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