Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Marking one-summer old whitefish with fluorescent pigment spraying method and results of whitefish stockings in the Gulf of Bothnia

Ari Leskelš

Doctoral dissertation, May 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biosciences, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute.

Anadromous whitefish is one of the most important fish species in the Finnish coastal fisheries in the Gulf fo Bothnia. To compensate the lost reproduction due to river damming and to support the fisheries, several million one-summer old whitefish are released yearly into the Gulf of Bothnia. Since there are naturally reproducing whitefish in the Gulf as well, and the wild and stocked fish can not be separated in the catch, stocking impact can only be estimated by marking the stocked fish.

Due to the small size and large number of released whitefish, the scattered fishery and large area where the whitefish migrate, most of the traditionally used fish marking methods were either unsuitable (e.g. Carlin-tags) or proved to be too expensive (e.g. coded wire tags). Fluorescent pigment spraying method offers a fast and cost-effective method to mass-mark young fish. However, the results are not always satisfactory due to low long-time retention of the marks in some species. The method has to be tested and proper marking conditions and methods determined for each species.

This thesis is based on work that was accomplished while developing the fluorescent pigment spraying method for marking one-summer old whitefish fingerlings, and it draws together the results of mass-marking whitefish fingerlings that were released in the Gulf of Bothnia.

Fluorescent pigment spraying method is suitable for one-summer old whitefish larger than 8 cm total length. The water temperature during the marking should not exceed 10o C. Suitable spraying pressure is 6 bars measured in the compressor outlet, and the distance of the spraying gun nozzle should be ca 20 cm from the fish. Under such conditions, the marking results in long-term retention of the mark with low or no mortality. The stress level of the fish (measured as muscle water content) rises during the marking procedure, but if the fish are allowed to recover after marking, the overall stress level remains within the limits observed in normal fish handling during the capture-loading-transport-stocking procedure.

The marked whitefish fingerlings are released into the sea at larger size and later in the season than the wild whitefish. However, the stocked individuals migrate to the southern feeding grounds in a similar pattern to the wild ones. The catch produced by whitefish stocking in the Gulf of Bothnia varied between released fingerling groups, but was within the limits reported elsewhere in Finland. The releases in the southern Bothnian Bay resulted in a larger catch than those made in the northern Bothnian Bay. The size of the released fingerlings seemed to have some effect on survival of the fish during the first winter in the sea. However, when the different marking groups were compared, the mean fingerling size was not related to stocking success.

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Last updated 28.04.2006

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