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December 20, 2002, Alexandria, Virginia:

Since 1996, BoatU.S., the BoatU.S. Clean Water Trust, and the BoatU.S. Foundation have been working with volunteer anglers through our Fish Tag and Release Program. For the past six years, hundreds of anglers have purchased fish tags and related equipment from BoatU.S., have tagged nearshore species, and then have returned fish data back to the BoatU.S. Foundation. The Foundation has been in charge of maintaining the inventory of fish tag products, assembling these products, helping volunteers, and processing data from both the original tags and tags that have been recaptured. Through this program and the efforts of some very dedicated anglers, nearly 6000 fish on the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts have been tagged.

It is with deep regret that we announce the end of the tagging portion of the BoatU.S. Foundation’s Fish Tag and Release Program. This program, and the large amounts of precise data it creates, have become extremely expensive to maintain on an ongoing basis. As a non-profit organization, the BoatU.S. Foundation must continually weigh each program with its costs. As a result, we have made the very difficult decision that we will no longer ask anglers to tag with our tags. The fish tag products stocked at BoatU.S. catalog sales will be sold, and the inventory will not be replenished.

This brings about the question of “What happens to fish tags out in the field?” If volunteer anglers have an existing supply of fish tags in their tacklebox, we will of course, process the data they send to us on those fish. In addition, it is extremely important for us to emphasize our ongoing commitment to providing service for those tagged fish that are recaptured. This is the most vital part of the program, and not one that we will abandon. We will continue to monitor our phone hotlines regarding recapture information on the 6000 fish swimming with BoatU.S. tags. We will encourage anglers to give us all the necessary data so that we can make the “before and after” connection for each particular fish. This important information will continue to be recorded by the BoatU.S. Foundation and forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service for their use.

We would like to thank all of our volunteer anglers and especially our fish-tagging Captains who have contributed so much to the BoatU.S. Fish Tag and Release Program. Please understand that the fish tag data that you have created has been passed on to the National Marine Fisheries Service to help make smart long term management decisions for nearshore species. We appreciate your dedication to fish tagging, and hope that despite our course change, you will continue to tag for another program. To find out about other options, we recommend visiting www.fishtag.info.

We will continue to process recapture information on your original tags and expect that we’ll be in touch with many of you through that process. If you have any questions regarding the Fish Tag program, please contact us at cleanwater@boatus.com.