Tagged kingfish reveal incredibe insights

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A tagged yellowtail kingfish. Image: Scott Thomas

TWO kingfish originally tagged in very different locations have been recaptured off Yamba on the same day by the same fisher. The NSW DPI Game Fish Tagging Program says the two recaptures highlight the dynamic and variable movement patterns of the iconic species, while it also gives a small insight into the potential of genetic mixing between different populations.

One fish was originally tagged on 27 December 2020 by recreational angler Scott Lihou offshore of Port Lincoln, SA. The fish measured 126cm total length and was estimated to be 14.5kg. Fast forward 249 days to 2 September 2021, and the fish was recaptured by a commercial fisher netting in the Clarence River, Yamba. The fish weighed 22.5kg upon recapture, showing considerable growth. During it’s time at liberty, the fish travelled some 1,300 nautical miles (~2,405km) from the original release location.

Incredibly, the other fish recaptured wasn’t sporting a NSW DPI tag, rather a New Zealand gamefish tag. NSW DPI Game Fish Tagging Program counterpart John Holdsworth from Bluewater Marine Research determined that this fish was originally tagged at Gannet Island offshore of Raglan, New Zealand. The fish was originally tagged on 14 February 2018 by Richard Hart. The fish was 97cm and estimated to be 10kg. Upon recapture the fish weighed 20.8kg. The fish spent 1296 days at liberty and was caught more than 1165 nautical miles (~2,155km) from its original release location.

Interestingly, NSW DPI says there has only been three other reported recaptures of New Zealand tagged kingfish in Australian waters. All three fish were originally tagged at the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. Two were recaptured at Montague Island and the other was recaptured at Jervis Bay.

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