Research Document - 1999/176

Pacific herring tagging from 1936-1992: a re-evaluation of homing based on additional data.)

By D.E. Hay, P.B. McCarter, and K. Daniel


Federal fisheries agencies in British Columbia started tagging and recovering Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi) in 1936. The earliest tagging programs (1936-1967) used metallic 'belly tags' that were inserted into the body cavity and recovered with magnetic detectors in reduction plants. More recent tagging programs (1979-1991) used plastic 'anchor' tags that were visually detected, usually in fish processing plants but also by fishers and others. There are several previous publications on results of belly tagging programs but the results of the anchor tagging studies have not been fully reported. Recently, the data from both tagging projects, including some unpublished data, were incorporated into a single electronic database. This revised database is relatively large, with about 1.6 million releases and 42,000 recoveries. The new data and new format provides analytical opportunities that were not possible in earlier analyses. This paper presents an analysis of the combined belly and anchor tagging data to comment on the issue of 'homing' in herring. The most recent tagging data, however, are from the most recent anchor tags released in the roe fishery. The authors use these data, plus the revised belly tagging data and included in the analyses the time at large (time between release and recapture), which was not included in previous analyses. They present analyses that examine apparent 'homing' rates vary as a function of: (1) the types of tag used (anchor versus belly tag) and the fishery and related recovery systems; (2) the season or month of tagging; (3) the period or duration between tag release and tag recapture, in months or years; (4) the geographical size of the area designated as the 'return' area, varying from very small 'Locations' (i.e., < 100 km2) to very large 'Regions' (i.e., ~10000 km2). The authors interpret the results in the context of the current concern about the structure of British Columbia herring populations and make recommendations for future management and research.

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