Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sportfish Carcasses Sought Biologists Will Collect and Analyze Remains

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sportfish Carcasses Sought Biologists Will Collect and Analyze Remains

Article excerpt

BRUNSWICK, Ga. -- Spud Woodward and Paul Medders want -- no,

make that need -- fish bones. The entrails and heads would be

nice, too, they said.

The state marine biologists are asking coastal Georgia anglers

to give them the filleted carcasses of seven species of

saltwater sportfish instead of throwing the skeletons and guts

overboard or in the trash.

Woodward and Medders, who work for the Georgia Department of

Natural Resources, will collect the carcasses in commercial-size

freezers the agency is placing at coastal marinas from Savannah

to St. Marys.

Information gathered will allow authorities to monitor the

health and population of sportfish, thus helping them to

protect, preserve and improve saltwater fishing in Georgia.

"You can really learn a lot by studying fish carcasses,"

Woodward said. "It is the most accurate way to get information

about the age, growth and reproduction cycles of the fish. We're

going to get a lot of information this way that otherwise would

not be available to us."

The program kicks off this weekend because the Labor Day

holiday traditionally is one of the busiest for anglers in

Georgia waters, the scientists said.

Marine authorities say the federally funded research project is

the only one of its kind in Georgia or Florida. South Carolina

marine biologists have reported success with a similar program,

Medders said.

The Georgia biologists will collect and analyze the remains of

red drum, spotted seatrout, weakfish, flounder, black drum,

sheepshead and tripletail. Those are the most common species of

sportfish in Georgia waters and are favorites of anglers.

That abundance of sportfish has helped make saltwater fishing

one of the top five recreational activities in Georgia, state

officials say. The variety of sportfish also lures many Florida

anglers to Georgia waters.

"We are blessed with an abundance of habitat for saltwater

fish, but we cannot afford to look at it as an unlimited

resource," Woodward said. …

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