Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program
About the VGFTP
The Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program (VGFTP) is a cooperative project of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC). Since 1995, the overall goal of the program has been to train and maintain an experienced group of recreational anglers who volunteer their time to tag and release ten target species: black drum, black sea bass, cobia, summer flounder, red drum, sheepshead, spadefish, speckled trout, tautog and grey triggerfish. Data on tagged and recaptured fish are summarized in annual reports that are accessible below (tag-recapture records appear in report Appendices) and shared with fishery resource managers.
The VGFTP is primarily funded with revenues from Virginia's saltwater recreational fishing license with matching funds from VIMS
The VGFTP is designed to:
- Develop a quality tagging program using recreational anglers to enhance data-collection efforts for specific species of fish (that aren’t already being tagged in VA by other research programs);
- Educate anglers about the need, benefits, limitations, and operation of tagging programs and other information-gathering efforts directed toward saltwater finfish, including the proper methods for reporting the recapture of tagged fish; and,
- Reinforce efforts to educate anglers about the benefits and proper techniques for catching, handling, releasing, and tagging fish.
Participation is limited to 200 anglers, and anglers are requested to renew their registration each year. New spaces are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis from the waiting list, which anglers can join at any time by emailing program managers (at VIMS: [[v|susanna]]). A mandatory, hands-on training workshop is held in the spring, and new anglers are required to attend. The workshop sessions teach proper fish-handling techniques and tagging techniques, procedures for data recording, and the goals and philosophy of the VGFTP. Anglers also practice inserting tags in fresh fish to get comfortable with the tagging process before going into the field. The tagging workshop provides an excellent learning opportunity for new taggers to meet experienced taggers (instructors), meet other volunteers, and gain confidence in their skills. VGFTP volunteer taggers are able to learn the history of the fish they tag and release each time their fish is recaptured.
Since 1995, VGFTP data use has grown and fishery managers use our data for VMRC compliance reports and regional stock assessments. VGFTP can provide a novel source of data for juvenile size indices, migratory patterns, and habitat use. For more information about VGFTP please contact the VGFTP Principal Investigator, Susanna Musick, [[v|susanna]].