Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 11–24 | Cite as

Training considerations for the intracoelomic implantation of electronic tags in fish with a summary of common surgical errors

  • Steven J. Cooke
  • Glenn N. Wagner
  • Richard S. Brown
  • Katherine A. Deters
Research Paper


Training is a fundamental part of all scientific and technical disciplines. This is particularly true for all types of surgeons. For surgical procedures, a number of skills are necessary to reduce mistakes. Trainees must learn an extensive yet standardized set of problem-solving and technical skills to handle challenges as they arise. There are currently no guidelines or consistent training methods for those intending to implant electronic tags in fish; this is surprising, considering documented cases of negative consequences of fish surgeries and information from studies having empirically tested fish surgical techniques. Learning how to do fish surgery once is insufficient for ensuring the maintenance or improvement of surgical skill. Assessment of surgical skills is rarely incorporated into training, and is needed. Evaluation provides useful feedback that guides future learning, fosters habits of self-reflection and self-remediation, and promotes access to advanced training. Veterinary professionals should be involved in aspects of training to monitor basic surgical principles. We identified attributes related to knowledge, understanding, and skill that surgeons must demonstrate prior to performing fish surgery including a “hands-on” assessment using live fish. Included is a summary of common problems encountered by fish surgeons. We conclude by presenting core competencies that should be required as well as outlining a 3-day curriculum for training surgeons to conduct intracoelomic implantation of electronic tags. This curriculum could be offered through professional fisheries societies as professional development courses.


Biotelemetry Biologging Suturing Training Surgical error 



We thank Brad Eppard and the Portland District Army Corps of Engineers for supporting this project. Cooke was also supported by the Canada Research Chairs program. We thank Chris Peery, Jennifer Panther, Brad Eppard and Christa Woodley for discussions regarding training and Caleb Hasler, Karen Murchie and Edd Brooks for providing comments on the manuscript. Andrea Currie kindly assisted with formatting the article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven J. Cooke
    • 1
  • Glenn N. Wagner
    • 2
  • Richard S. Brown
    • 3
  • Katherine A. Deters
    • 3
  1. 1.Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of BiologyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  2. 2.EDI Environmental Dynamics Inc.VancouverCanada
  3. 3.Ecology GroupPacific Northwest National LaboratoryRichlandUSA

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