Marlin’s Death a Rare Occurrence

Marlin’s Death a Rare Occurrence

Massive 649kg marlin's death during game fishing fight defended as a rare tag and release occurrence

Posted on 07.12.2018

Fishing groups and experts have defended the actions of anglers who landed a nearly 650 kilogram black marlin off Queensland on Friday, saying the majority of catches tagged and released in Australia survive.

The 649.87kg beast took just two hours to catch, with sport fisherman Rob Crane and his crew deciding to bring it back to shore after witnessing it had died to see whether they had managed to beat the world record of 707kg.

The anglers pointed out the fish was killed during its fight with Mr Crane off Lady Musgrave Island, not on board nor being brought back to shore.

“We’re not all about killing awesome creatures, that’s for sure. We’ve caught plenty before and tagged and released them, but we just thought this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing [bringing it to shore],” he said.

“It’s so rare to get the opportunity, or even a bite, but to get it on your boat is a whole other story, it’s pretty awesome.”

The angler estimated the black marlin to be about 15 years old, and is the largest of its kind caught in Australia in over 30 years.

Key Points

  • The capture of a giant marlin has sparked a debate over the ethics of killing the fish
  • Anglers say the black marlin weighing almost 650kg died as it was being reeled in
  • An expert says the survival rate of fish following release exceeds 90 per cent

Marine Biologist Sam Williams, who specialises in the study of marlins and fisheries science at the University of Queensland, said the survival rate of fish following release exceeds 90 per cent.

Dr Williams said it was common practice to release fish, and anglers are often avid supporters of keeping them alive for conservation and research.

“As far as game fishers go about catching these marlins, in Australian waters 95 per cent that are caught are tagged and released,” he said.

“Anglers bring them to the boat, they take a lot of care because generally they are actually the most keen to learn as much as they can about these animals.

“They’re out there every day trying to sustainably tag and release them so more can be learnt later.”

Dr Williams said the catch will be beneficial for studies, and already indicated possible changes in living and spawning behaviours compared to a decade ago.

“To see a marlin this size is quite unusual — particularly where it was,” he said.

“It’s probably in the order of one of the top five or ten black Marlins caught in the world, and the fact it was caught off Lady Musgrave was particularly interesting.

“Hervey Bay is sort of the home of the juvenile black marlins, not particularly the large black marlin, as they use it as sort of a nursery area for their first six months of life.

ABC News




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