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electrofishing

Electrofishing is the practice of feeding a weak electrical charge into the water to stun fish so that they become momentarily incapacitated and float to the surface, usually motionless. The fish are then scooped up with a net and placed into a holding tank. The practice is often used by biologists to conduct studies on the fish for average size, illnesses and parasites in order to best manage lake resources by making adjustments for water flow, catch limits, stocking programs and water levels, etc.

Electrofishing is said to be generally safe and the stunned fish usually recover within a few seconds to a couple of minutes. But protection groups including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals contend fish feel pain. In recent years, electrofishing has become a standard tool as biologists argue a slight shock is much easier on fish and other wildlife than the previous practice of dousing a sealed-off cove with a chemical compound called rotenone, which killed fish so they could be scooped out and counted.

Electrofishing is usually a simple process performed on a boat that is equipped with a metal pole that hangs off the bow over the water. Three metal cables hang from the pole into the water, and an insulated wire connects the cables to an electrical generator in the rear of the boat.

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