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Friday, 21 June 2013

Guest Blog - Black Bream Research!

Guest Blog - By Quy Van

Please meet Quy Van, here is little bit about him!

I am a very keen recreational angler who is a sucker for catching anything from a garfish, right up to southern bluefin tuna and marlin – fresh water, salt water, estuarine, big or small – I don’t discriminate! 
I have worked in the tackle industry for 6 or so years and over this time have seen many trends in recreational fishing come and go.  Due to my geographical location (south west Victoria, Warrnambool) I am living in a “poor man’s paradise”! There are many fishing options here, and I predominantly chase the charismatic estuary perch, bream and sea run trout. Although I started out as a nurse, my passion for recreational fisheries has lead me to do a degree in marine biology, with a focus on fisheries management and recreational fisheries. I have been very fortunate to have grown up along the stunning New Zealand coastline situated around the Bay of Plenty, and a father who lived and breathed fishing – for both survival and nowadays recreation.  I owe it to my father for his excellent guidance and introduction to fishing. From my first time catching a “sprat” (pilchard) which in turn was bait for a kingfish (in turn consumed by my family), it was on this very day I learnt about the food chain, the oceans bounty and how we should respect it. 
In return I am not doing this degree for money, but for the joy I got when I was first introduced to fishing.  I would love to see many parents share this very same experience I had with their children; enjoying what mother nature can provide us and learning to respect our resources – and hopefully one day, when I have a kid of my own, I can share this same experience. 

Not a bad day in 'the office':)
The research....
In this day and age, anglers are becoming increasingly aware of conservation and animal welfare, and for that (and other reasons) practicing catch and release on a myriad of species. In Victoria, Australia, there has been a boom in the recreational black bream fishery.  An incredibly slow growing species, they are a prized capture, and anglers target them year round.  They are found in many estuarine rivers and lakes whether it is in my home patch of Southwest Victoria, metropolitan Melbourne or the far east of Victoria. 
A nice setting for some research - the Glenelg River
Blood sampling a black bream
There are many bream-specific tournaments where catch and release is mandatory once weighed in live.  Being a very keen and passionate recreational angler, I have devoted my time into studying fisheries management and recreational fisheries, which has lead me to do a further “research” year focusing on the effects of this confinement of black bream. Many anglers, who chase black bream practice 'live holding' of bream in their aerated live wells / tanks fitted on boats.  

At the end of the fishing session, the fish are exposed to the air for photos / weighing and then released, often many kilometres where they were first caught. Many anglers believe bream are a hardy species that will survive the rigours of confinement, air exposure and the physical angling process, but can we be certain?
Recovery before release
With this in mind, my curiosity got the better of me and I instigated an assessment of the catch, hold, release process on black bream. Never would I have thought I would be fishing in the name of science but I liked the idea! After dealing with a lot of red tape and little nitty gritties with permits etc, I was ultimately granted permission from Deakin University and the Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries Victoria) to investigate the stress effects of confinement on bream. In order to achieve this, there are 2 phases of this project. Phase 1 (the fun bit!) was to obtain samples which involved fellow researcher Jesse Olle and I designing and manufacturing specific live holding cages.  We then travelled to the picturesque Glenelg River in South Western Victoria, set up our make shift 'lab' and set about the capture of a total of 144 bream, and obtained non lethal blood samples.

In the name of science...
With phase 1 of the study is now complete and with our blood samples back at Deakin University, we will soon be assessing the blood for certain important indicators (glucose, lactate, cortisol and total protein analysis). What we expect to see over a time span of 24 hours is that within the first 0 – 8 hours there will be some sort of stress response elicited, and over the 24 hour period the stress indicators will return to normal/close to normal levels thereafter. From this data generated, we can use it to advise bream anglers whether or not their handling practices are adequate for the survival of bream, or should methods be modified to better ensure the survival and welfare? As a majority of anglers are now exponents of catch and release, if fish don’t survive, then their well intended efforts of anglers could be in vain. 

Note - Ebb Tide Adventures is extremely proud to be associated with Quy Van - his passion and enthusiasm for recreational fishing and fish welfare is extremely refreshing!