Tagging game fish offers clues to climate change affects
CLIMATE change and how it's affecting our fishing off the Coffs Coast is a hot topic here these days.
And take it from me, the fishing's been terrible.
Recreational game anglers are helping scientists understand some of the effects of climate change and ocean warming.
Game fish in this column are usually sporting a small yellow tag. These tags come with a unique ID number, and an accompanying data card that's forwarded to the NSW Department of Primary Industry.
The NSWDPI tagging program started in 1974, and since then more than 400,000 game fish have been tagged.
This tagging information is now being studied by climate scientists.
Using 54,000 tag records of black marlin from Australian waters, scientists from James Cook University been able to identify a correlation between El Niño, warming of the East Australian Current, and the increasing southwards penetration of the black marlin population.
Scientists have now been able to show that the black marlin habitat boundaries have moved south at the rate of 88km a decade as a result of the warming of the EAC.
This use of the game fish tagging program database was never envisaged back when the program was first established, and the value of the efforts of recreational anglers was probably never more useful than it is now in the ongoing climate change debate.