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salmon sampling


Effects of Capture and Release

The Fraser River is home to all 5 salmon species and hundreds of geographically and genetically unique populations of salmon, many of which migrate through marine areas and upstream through the river towards spawning areas at the same time of year. Commercial, First Nations, or recreational fisheries will target a specific species for harvest but are typically required to release the other non-target species. Our lab has done work to understand the effects of capture-and-release in various fisheries on physiological recovery, behaviour, and subsequent migration success – in multiple species and populations of salmon. The most common technique we’ve employed is biotelemetry – implanting radio or acoustic transmitters to track migration behaviour and success of individual fish after release. In field and laboratory experiments, we have used heart-rate biologgers and blood hormones and developed simple animal reflex indicators to examine how quickly salmon can recover from being captured. Our lab is also using new genomic techniques to understand how capture-and-release can affect pathogen development and disease in migrating salmon. Beyond simply documenting the impacts, we use these techniques to understand what handling practices are best for fish, and to test whether specially-designed recovery bags or boxes can be used to facilitate recovery and improve survival. This research has generated information that can be used for informing management of capture-and-release fisheries, both by providing accurate mortality estimates to fisheries managers and by giving fishers ways to minimize handling stress and mortality for the fish they release.  


Selected Publications

Wilson, S.M., Raby, G.D., Burnett, N.J., Hinch, S.G., Cooke, S.J. Looking beyond the mortality of bycatch: sublethal effects of incidental capture on marine animals. Biological Conservation 171: 61-72.

Robinson, K.A., Hinch, S.G., Gale, M.K., Clark, T.D., Wilson, S.M., Donaldson, M.R., Farrell, A.P., Cooke, S.J., Patterson, D.A. (2013). Effects of post-capture ventilation assistance and elevated water temperature on sockeye salmon in a simulated capture-and-release experiment. Conservation Physiology 10.1093/conphys/cot015.

Donaldson, M.R., Raby, G.D., Nguyen, V.N., Hinch, S.G., Patterson, D.A., Farrell, A.P., Rudd, M., Thompson, L.A., O’Connor, C.M., Colotelo, A.H., McConnachie, S.H., Cook, K.V., Robichaud, D., English, K.K., Cooke, S.J. (2013). Evaluation of a simple technique for recovering Pacific salmon from capture stress: integrating comparative physiology, biotelemetry, and social science to solve a conservation problem. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 70: 90-100.

Gale, M.K., Hinch, S.G., Eliason, E.J., Cooke, S.J., Patterson, D.A. (2011) Physiological impairment of adult sockeye salmon in fresh water after simulated capture-and-release across a range of temperatures. Fisheries Research 112: 85-95.

Donaldson, M.R., Clark, T.D., Hinch, S.G., Cooke, S.J., Patterson, D.A., Gale, M.K., Frappell, P.B., Farrell, A.P. (2010) Physiological responses of free-swimming adult coho salmon to simulated predator and fisheries encounters. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 83: 973-983.


For other publications, please see our Publications page.