Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 1–9 | Cite as

An introduction to the practical and ethical perspectives on the need to advance and standardize the intracoelomic surgical implantation of electronic tags in fish

  • Richard S. Brown
  • M. Brad Eppard
  • Karen J. Murchie
  • Jennifer L. Nielsen
  • Steven J. Cooke
Research Paper


The intracoelomic surgical implantation of electronic tags (including radio and acoustic telemetry transmitters, passive integrated transponders and archival biologgers) is frequently used for conducting studies on fish. Electronic tagging studies provide information on the spatial ecology, behavior and survival of fish in marine and freshwater systems. However, any surgical procedure, particularly one where a laparotomy is performed and the coelomic cavity is opened, has the potential to alter the survival, behavior or condition of the animal which can impair welfare and introduce bias. Given that management, regulatory and conservation decisions are based on the assumption that fish implanted with electronic tags have similar fates and behavior relative to untagged conspecifics, it is critical to ensure that best surgical practices are being used. Also, the current lack of standardized surgical procedures and reporting of specific methodological details precludes cross-study and cross-year analyses which would further progress the field of fisheries science. This compilation of papers seeks to identify the best practices for the entire intracoelomic tagging procedure including pre- and post-operative care, anesthesia, wound closure, and use of antibiotics. Although there is a particular focus on salmonid smolts given the large body of literature available on that group, other life-stages and species of fish are discussed where there is sufficient knowledge. Additional papers explore the role of the veterinarian in fish surgeries, the need for minimal standards in the training of fish surgeons, providing a call for more complete and transparent procedures, and identifying trends in procedures and research needs. Collectively, this body of knowledge should help to improve data quality (including comparability and repeatability), enhance management and conservation strategies, and maintain the welfare status of tagged fish.


Surgery Tagging Transmitter Telemetry 



We thank Alison Colotelo for kindly providing comments on this introductory paper. The following referees kindly evaluated the papers considered for this special issue: Tim Clark, Thomas Grothues, Erica Eliason, Jesse Trushenski, Tom Binder, Sarah McConnachie, Daniel Mulcahy, Chris Vandergoot, Martyn Lucas, Craig Bihun, Tony Goldberg, Cory Suski, Greg Gaulke, Eric Hockersmith, Caleb Hasler, Edd Brooks, Alison Collins, Chris Holbrook, Brendan Ebner, Katrina Cook, Craig Harms, Marie-Laure Acolas, Katherine Deters, Adam Daniel, Jim Boyd, Brian Graeb and Brenton Zampatti.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V.  2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard S. Brown
    • 1
  • M. Brad Eppard
    • 2
  • Karen J. Murchie
    • 3
  • Jennifer L. Nielsen
    • 4
  • Steven J. Cooke
    • 3
  1. 1.Ecology GroupPacific Northwest National LaboratoryRichlandUSA
  2. 2.United States Army Corps of Engineers, Portland DistrictPortlandUSA
  3. 3.Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology and Institute of Environmental ScienceCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  4. 4.United States Geological SurveyAlaska Science CenterAnchorageUSA

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