Fishery managers frequently capture wild fish for a variety of fishery management activities. Though some activities can be accomplished without immobilizing the fish, others are accomplished more readily, humanely, and safely (for both the handler and the fish) when fish are immobilized by physical (e.g., electrical immobilization) or chemical sedation. A concern regarding the use of chemical sedatives is that chemical residues may remain in the fillet tissue after the fish recovers from sedation. If those residues are harmful to humans, there is some risk that a postsedated fish released to public waters may be caught and consumed by an angler. To characterize this risk, a series of four trials were conducted. Three trials assessed feeding activity after hatchery-reared fish were electrically immobilized, chemically sedated, or both, and one trial assessed the likelihood of an angler catching a wild fish that had been electrically immobilized and chemically sedated. Results from the first trial indicated that the feeding activity of laboratory habituated fish was variable among and within species after electrical immobilization, chemical sedation, or both. Results from the second trial indicated that the resumption of feeding activity was rapid after being mildly sedated for 45 min. Results from the third trial indicated that the feeding activity of outdoor, hatchery-reared fish was relatively aggressive after fish had been chemically sedated. Results from the fourth trial indicated that the probability of capturing wild fish in a more natural environment by angling after fish had been electrically immobilized and chemically sedated is not likely, i.e., in a group of five fish caught, 3 out of 100 times one would be a fish that had been sedated.
Additional publication details
Feeding response of sport fish after electrical immobilization, chemical sedation, or both