Temporary immobilization of fish by electricity (“electroanesthesia” or “electrosedation”) is becoming more common in fisheries work.
Electroanesthesia makes easier handling fish for tag-implantation, spawning, measurement, and other processing tasks.
No drugs are involved, so there is no mandatory withdrawal period before a fish can be released into the wild. Also, electroanesthesia may be safer than or as safe as drug-induced anesthesia for fish (see Vandergoot, C.S. et al. 2011. Evaluation of two forms of electroanesthesia and carbon dioxide for short-term anesthesia in walleye. N. Am. Jour. of Fisheries Management 31:914-922; Trushenski et al. 2012. Induction, Recovery, and Hematological Responses of Largemouth Bass to Chemo- and Electrosedation. N. Am. Jour. of Aquaculture 74:214-223).
The typical set-up for electroanesthesia involves sedating the fish in a container of water. However, Smith-Root, Inc., a U.S.-based electrofishing equipment manufacturer, has added a different twist- electrified fish handling gloves.
At a recent electrofishing course in Arizona, the class and I were treated to a demonstration by Patrick Cooney, who is on the staff at Smith-Root and was a developer of this technology. The gloves have a low-intensity electric current applied to them by a power control unit worn by the user. I was amazed at how effective these gloves were and how easy they made handling of large-sized fishes. Individual fish can be handled and processed outside of water and then released with immediate recovery.
Here’s a newspaper article on the application of these fish handling gloves by a state fisheries agency:
and more information including a video from the Smith-Root, Inc. site: