Angler and diver support needed in fish tagging project

provided by San Diego Oceans Foundation


he San Diego Oceans Foundation is looking for anglers and divers to help aid one of the most ambitious artificial reef tagging programs in history. Data from the project will improve understanding of fish movement patterns between artificial and natural reefs, fish growth, habitat preferences and provide new information on the recruitment versus attraction debate, surrounding artificial reef design.

    “Cooperation and participation from a wide range of fishermen and divers is the key to the success of our tagging effort,” said Operations Director Noelle Barger of the San Diego Oceans Foundation, which is implementing the program. “Any angler that can provide catch information or diver that sights a tagged fish should report it immediately to the Foundation. It's important we receive full cooperation with the fishing and diving communities, as the results of the tagging study will be used for assessing artificial reef productivity and design, possibly increasing our understanding of the benefits of artificial reefs.”

    Nearly 2,000 tags are expected to be attached to fish in four distinct marine environments off San Diego's coast. These will include the Ruby E, a former Coast Guard Cutter that was purposefully sunk in 1989; the NOSC Tower, which fell to the ocean floor during the El Nino storm in 1988; the HMCS Yukon, a surplus Canadian Navy Destroyer which was cleaned, prepared, and sunk in 2000 by SDOF as an artificial reef; and the La Jolla kelp beds. Fish species that will be targeted include: sheephead, barred sandbass, kelp bass, cabezon, rockfish, surfperch, and lingcod. Recently, the California Department of Fish & Game closed the sport fishery for some of these species. However, anglers are encouraged to report their catch-and-release information, specifically noting the tag number and the catch location.

Tag – you're it

    SDOF has blanketed area tackle and dive shops with posters on this reward-marking program. Each fishermen and diver who reports catch or sight information will be entered into a monthly drawing for great prizes like diving gear and fishing tackle. In addition, a $5 reward is being offered to any fisher who returns a Floy tag, with the valuable catch information to SDOF. There will be tag drop-off locations located at each major fishing landing accompanied with tag recovery forms. Tag findings or sightings may also be reported to SDOF online at (a simplified report form has been posted to SDOF's home page) or by calling Noelle Barger (619) 523-1903.

    The T-bar or Floy anchor tags are thin strips of colored plastic carrying contact information for the project. The tags are attached to the dorsal fin and are individually numbered and color-coded (i.e., hot pink, white and yellow). The use of external tags for identifying individuals or groups of fish is the oldest and most widely used technique applied. The justification for any type of tag on a fish is the future recovery or recapture and the adjoining information. Tagging is done quite rapidly with a tagging gun in the same way as clothes are frequently marked in shops. All fish are safe to eat once the tag has been removed.

    The San Diego Oceans Foundation is an 18-year-old nonprofit organization devoted to the stewardship of the region's marine waters and their living resources. The Foundation conducts various projects with volunteer assistance and balances ocean user needs with environmental protection. The primary programs revolve around underwater research, fisheries restoration, pollution prevention and marine science education for the benefit of users of the ocean – San Diego's finest resource. For more information, visit their web site at or call Noelle Barger at (619) 523-1903.