Billfish and DNA

The initiative to take DNA samples from tagged sailfish gathered momentum at the recent Broome Billfish Classic.

Renowned marine biologist Dr Julian Pepperell flew to be Broome at the invitation of the Broome Fishing Club to be part of the popular annual event, and also then travelled on to Dampier for the subsequent Dampier Classic.

Tagging and releasing billfish has long been a part of both popular competitions, but this year Dr Pepperell showed participants how to use DNA testing kits to gain valuable scientific data on sailfish and marlin.

Dr Pepperell, based in Queensland, is the man behind the initiative, which is in its second year and sees anglers take a small clip off the dorsal fin of captured fish before releasing them. It is a great way to get more insight into billfish populations, and particularly sailfish.

The DNA data will help shed new light on billfish habits, including fish movements and breeding. This project was made possible by the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund and supported by Recfishwest and the WA Department of Fisheries.

Dr Pepperell plans to also show off the new sampling system at future game fishing tournaments around WA. There has already been a dramatic rise in recaptures of tagged sailfish off Broome this year and hopefully, the DNA sampling will help gather further information on this iconic recreational fishing species.

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