Fishing for Science
Millions of fish are released each year by recreational, commercial, and First Nations fishers either voluntarily or to adhere to fisheries regulations. But there is no information about what happens after these fish are put back.
According to Steven Cooke, Canada Research Chair in Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology at Carleton University, there is a need for independent and credible scientific research to identify the factors that contribute to fish mortality. That information can then be used to educate fishers and inform managers about strategies to reduce stress and injury and increase survival of released fish.
Using cutting-edge technology and integrative approaches, Cooke and his colleagues are monitoring the behaviour, physiology, and survival of fish to find out what actually happens when they are captured and released. This project will concentrate on a range of freshwater and marine fish including largemouth bass, northern pike and muskellunge in eastern Ontario, and on Pacific salmon in British Columbia.
Cooke is working on this project in partnership with a number of provincial and federal government agencies as well as stakeholder groups such as Muskies Canada and Trout Unlimited.
He has received many awards recognizing his work on fish reactions to human stressors, like habitat alteration, thermal changes, and recreational fishing.
The ultimate aim of his research is to create policies to reduce mortality rates and stress suffered by fish that are released by fishers in Canada, and to ensure that all fishing activities in Canada are environmentally responsible and economically sustainable.