Tagged Sablefish Recovered Decades Later

Between 1981 and 1995, a study was conducted to track movement and growth of sablefish, an important commercial species. Over the last six months, commercial fishermen have recovered three of the tagged fish.

One of the fish was tagged in 1986 and traveled almost 600 miles from southern California to Eureka. During that time it grew from a length of 18 inches to 22 inches. Another fish was tagged near Morro Bay and recovered 20 years later within 15 miles of where it was released. This fish grew from 19 inches to 22 inches. The third fish was tagged off Coos Bay Oregon in 1991 and was recovered 19 years later off Morro Bay, a trip of more than 500 miles. This fish grew from 20 inches to 24 inches in length.

These recaptured fish were relatively small when initially captured and averaged less than one quarter of an inch in growth each year. The information will help scientists understand more about the life history and migratory characteristics of this extremely valuable species.

(February 15, 2011)