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Guest Blog – Black Bream Research!

Guest Blog – By Quy Van

Please meet Quy Van, here is little bit about him!

I am a very
keen recreational angler who is a sucker for catching anything from a garfish,
right up to southern bluefin tuna and marlin – fresh water, salt water,
estuarine, big or small – I don’t discriminate! 

I have worked in the tackle
industry for 6 or so years and over this time have seen many trends in
recreational fishing come and go.  Due to my geographical location (south west Victoria,
Warrnambool) I am living in a “poor man’s paradise”! There are many fishing
options here, and I predominantly chase the charismatic estuary perch, bream
and sea run trout. Although I started out as a nurse, my passion for
recreational fisheries has lead me to do a degree in marine biology, with a
focus on fisheries management and recreational fisheries. I have been very
fortunate to have grown up along the stunning New Zealand coastline situated
around the Bay of Plenty, and a father who lived and breathed fishing – for
both survival and nowadays recreation.  I owe it to my father for his
excellent guidance and introduction to fishing. From my first time catching a
“sprat” (pilchard) which in turn was bait for a kingfish (in turn consumed
by my family), it was on this very day I learnt about the food chain, the oceans
bounty and how we should respect it. 

In return I am not doing this degree for
money, but for the joy I got when I was first introduced to fishing.  I would love to see many parents share this very same experience I had with their children; enjoying
what mother nature can provide us and learning to respect our resources – and
hopefully one day, when I have a kid of my own, I can share this same experience. 

Not a bad day in ‘the office’:)

The research….
In this day and age, anglers are becoming
increasingly aware of conservation and animal welfare, and for that (and other reasons) practicing
catch and release on a myriad of species. In Victoria, Australia, there has been a boom in
the recreational black bream fishery.  An incredibly slow growing species, they are a prized capture, and anglers target them year round.  They are found in many estuarine rivers and lakes whether it is in my home patch of
Southwest Victoria, metropolitan Melbourne or the far east of Victoria. 


A nice setting for some research – the Glenelg River
Blood sampling a black bream

There are many bream-specific tournaments where catch and release is mandatory once weighed in live.  Being a very keen and passionate
recreational angler, I have devoted my time into studying fisheries management and
recreational fisheries, which has lead me to do a further “research” year
focusing on the effects of this confinement of black bream. Many anglers, who chase black bream
practice ‘live holding’ of bream in their aerated live wells / tanks fitted on boats.  

At the end of the fishing session, the fish are exposed to the air for photos / weighing and then released, often many kilometres
where they were first caught. Many anglers believe bream are a hardy species that will
survive the rigours of confinement, air exposure and the physical angling
process, but can we be certain?

Recovery before release

With this in mind, my curiosity got the
better of me and I instigated an assessment of the catch, hold, release process on black bream. Never would I have thought I would be fishing
in the name of science but I liked the idea! After dealing with a lot of red tape and little nitty gritties
with permits etc, I was ultimately granted permission from Deakin University and the
Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries Victoria) to investigate the stress
effects of confinement on bream. In order to achieve this, there are 2 phases
of this project. Phase 1 (the fun bit!) was to obtain samples which involved fellow researcher Jesse Olle and I designing and manufacturing specific live holding
cages.  We then travelled to the picturesque Glenelg River in South Western Victoria, set up our make shift ‘lab’ and set about the capture of a total of 144 bream,
and obtained non lethal blood samples.

In the name of science…

With phase 1 of the study is now complete
and with our blood samples back at Deakin University, we will soon be assessing
the blood for certain important indicators (glucose, lactate, cortisol and total
protein analysis). What we expect to see over a time span of 24 hours is that within
the first 0 – 8 hours there will be some sort of stress response elicited, and
over the 24 hour period the stress indicators will return to normal/close to
normal levels thereafter. From this data generated, we can use it to advise
bream anglers whether or not their handling practices are adequate for the
survival of bream, or should methods be modified to better ensure the survival
and welfare? As a majority of anglers are now exponents of catch and
release, if fish don’t survive, then their well intended efforts of anglers could be in vain. 

Note – Ebb Tide Adventures is extremely proud to be associated with Quy Van – his passion and enthusiasm for recreational fishing and fish welfare is extremely refreshing!

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