The Albie Project | Tagging False Albacore with the ASGA

Capt. Mike from Salty Cape and Hogy Lures has partnered with The American Saltwater Guides Association and New England Aquarium to take part in a tagging study on False Albacore here on Cape Cod.

A message from The American Saltwater Guides Association:

“For fly and light-tackle anglers along the U.S. east coast, few species attract more of a cult following than the false albacore, endearingly referred to as “albies” (and formally known as little tunny, Euthynnus alletteratus). Fast-moving, difficult to fool, and brutally hard-fighting, they have been described by anglers from Cape Cod to Cape Lookout as “the perfect sportfish,” and according to NOAA Fisheries they’re the primary target of about a half-million trips annually along the Atlantic coast. Even further south, where so-called “bonita” (a misnomer, by the way) have historically been looked down upon as a trash fish only good for bait, they’ve begun to earn respect in areas such as Florida’s Treasure Coast.

Their increasingly wide acclaim, in spite of generally being viewed as less-than-stellar table fare, makes albies a prime example of a species whose value to the recreational fishing economy stems from its abundance. Despite their popularity, we know almost nothing about false albacore biology and movements, likely due in large part to their lack of commercial value. For example, are the fish anglers target off southern New England a separate sub-population from fish found off North Carolina and Florida, or do they all represent a single well-mixed group?

albie study
Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing doing some albie tagging with members of the ASGA and New England Aquarium.

Do schools of fish “set up shop” in general areas for weeks at a time or are they always on the move? Better understanding the degree of population connectivity is especially urgent given emerging potential threats to this species—for example, a fishery in south Florida to supply the bait market and the rapid expansion of offshore wind energy projects in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. An additional unknown when it comes to albies is the impact of recreational fishing on the species. According to NOAA Fisheries, over the past decade, anglers along the Atlantic coast have caught and released between one and two million false albacore annually. However, no research has been conducted to estimate the percentage of fish that survive after release or inform what steps anglers can take to maximize the chance of survival.”

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