Immediate fate of angled-and-released Australian bass Macquaria novemaculeata
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- Dowling, C.E., Hall, K.C. & Broadhurst, M.K. Hydrobiologia (2010) 641: 145. doi:10.1007/s10750-009-0073-6
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The prevalence of catch-and-release factors known to adversely affect the mortality or physical condition of Australian bass Macquaria novemaculeata were surveyed across a range of anglers throughout impoundments and rivers in New South Wales. Subsamples of tournament-caught fish were also monitored in tanks for 1 h after being weighed to quantify immediate mortalities and sublethal physical damage. Most fish were caught on actively fished artificial baits, and were mouth hooked (96%), which resulted in no immediate mortality amongst monitored fish and a low frequency of mortality-causing factors in surveys. However, fish that were weighed-in during tournaments often had fin damage (52% of fish) and/or barotrauma (25% of fish, in impoundments only), and were held in live wells with poor water-quality. The prevalence of these sublethal effects varied considerably according to the specific seasons, locations, rules and procedures of each tournament; but could not be reliably attributed to any of the recorded catch-and-release variables (except for dissolved oxygen, which was significantly influenced by live-well volume). While these results validate the current release of angled Australian bass as a means of conserving their stocks, the potential for adverse effects could nevertheless be minimised via simple changes to conventional handling.