Fish that are thrown back ingest less food

Introduction: Holes in fishes’ jaws caused by fishing hooks reduces their suction power, making it more difficult for them to ingest food.

This is the outcome of a new international study in which researcher Sam Van Wassenbergh (UAntwerp) participated. Most recreational anglers are required to use the ‘catch and release’ principle in order to maintain fish populations. However, fish that are put back in the water often have injuries to their mouths caused by fishing hooks. These hooks pierce the skin at the edge of the mouth and the fish is left with a hole in its jaw.

“This hole inevitably reduces the fish's suction power. Fish need this suction power to catch food,” says biologist Sam Van Wassenbergh from the Functional Morphology laboratory at the University of Antwerp. He worked with colleagues from Canada and the United States on a study that has just been published in The Journal of Experimental Biology.