First Mass Marking Season Nearing Completion with more than 5.3 million fish tagged for stocking in Great Lakes
4.2 million Lake trout and 1.1 million Chinook salmon were tagged this year at Federal and state fish hatcheries in the Great Lakes region thanks to two new automated tagging trailers owned and operated by the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Fisheries program. This is the first year of implementation of a mass marking program to coded-wire tag and mark (finclip) state hatchery fish in addition to federal hatchery fish in the Great Lakes. This technique has been successfully used in the Northwest for marking hatchery-reared Pacific salmon, and is known as “mass-marking” since millions of fish are rapidly tagged and marked each year.
The mass marking season began the third week of March, and the final fish of the season will be tagged at Iron River National Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin by mid-November.
The automated tagging trailers (developed by Northwest Marine Technology) are capable of marking up to 60,000 fish in a single eight-hour day amounting to an overall cost savings of 11 percent over manual methods. The automated trailer also provides better tag retention, more consistent tag placement, and easier tag recovery in the laboratory.
Mass-Marking by the numbers in 2010:
742,000 Chinook salmon at Platte River State Fish Hatchery in Michigan
362,000 Chinook salmon at Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin
2 million Lake trout at Jordan River National Fish Hatchery
1 million Lake trout at Pendills Creek National Fish Hatchery
1.2 million Lake trout at Iron River National Fish Hatchery
The Service also this year provided two technicians to work with the Department of Environmental Conservation in New York to collect tagged Chinook salmon recovered by sport fishing. These fish had been tagged and released from New York state hatcheries over the past three years.
“This has been a successful first year of implementation for the mass marking program. We were able to efficiently code-wire tag all lake trout in our three Federal hatcheries, while also servicing the states of Wisconsin and Michigan,” said Chuck Bronte, a fishery biologist and data analyst from the FWS’s Green Bay National Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO). Bronte also serves as the FWS lead for mass marking implementation in the Great Lakes.
“Working with Northwest Marine Technology’s engineers and our state partners has far exceeded our expectations.” Once the last fish are tagged this November the automated trailers will be transported to the Green Bay FWCO where they will be housed during the winter months.