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Document Type

Book Chapter


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


John A. Musick, Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Ramon Bonfil, Wildlife Conservation Society

Publication Date


Book Title

Management Techniques for Elasmobranch Fisheries




Rome, Italy


FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 474


Tagging methods have a long history of use as tools to study animal populations. Although the first attempts to mark an animal occurred sometime between 218 and 201 B.C. (a Roman officer tied a note describing plans for military action to the leg of a swallow and when the bird was released it returned to its nest, which was in close proxiD?ity to the military outpost in need of the information), it is uncertain when fish :"ere first marked (McFarlane, Wydoski and Prince, 1990). An early report published 1? The_ Comp/eat Angler in 1653 by Isaak Walton described how private individuals tied ribbons to the tails of juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and ultimately determined that Atlantic salmon returned from the sea to their natal river (Walton and (otton, ~ 898; McFarlane, Wydoski and Prince, 1990). Since the late 1800s, numerous fish tagging experiments have been conducted with an initial emphasis on salmonids followed soon after by successful attempts at tagging flatfish and cod. Pelagic species, namely Pacific herring (Clupea harengus pallasi) and bluefin tuna (Thrmnus thynnus) Were successfully tagged in the early 1900s, while elasmobranch tagging studies did not commence until the 1930s. Since 1945, large-scale tagging programmes have been initiated all over the world in an effort to study the biology and ecology of fish populations.

Modern tagging studies can be separated into two general categories. Tag-recovery studies are those in which individuals of the target population(s) are tagged, released, and subsequently killed upon recapture, as in a commercial fishery; while capture-recapture studies are designed to systematically tag, release and recapture individuals on multiple sampling occasions



Tagging methods and associated data analysis