Evidence for long‐term site fidelity of snapper (Pagrus auratus) within a marine reserve

Trevor J Willis, Darren M. Parsons, Russell C. Babcock

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Increases in the density of exploited species on unfished reefs logically implies that some individuals are at least temporarily resident, or show fidelity to a particular area. We tagged snapper (Pagrus auratus (Bloch & Schneider 1801)) in the Leigh Marine Reserve, New Zealand using visible implant fluorescent elastomer tags, recoverable by diver visual sightings without the need to recapture the fish. Batch tagging of snapper (n = 907) was done during an angling survey in June and December 1996, and individually coded tags were implanted by divers (n = 117) in January 1999. Snapper tagged during both programmes were recovered on irregular intervals from 1997 to 2000. There were 71 recoveries of batch tags within 500 m of their tagging sites, and these recoveries were still being made >3 years after tagging: Of individually coded fish, 49 (42%) were seen, sometimes repeatedly over several months, close to their respective tagging sites. These observations included snapper as small as 23 cm fork length, contradicting the commonly held impression that only large snapper take up long‐term residency on reefs. This preliminary evidence suggests that some snapper exhibit site fidelity to areas only a few hundred metres wide, and in the absence of fishing may occupy the same area for years.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-590
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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