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WEIGH-IN & SCALE CALIBRATION
You may have been confused by the weigh-in requirements of the National Federation of Sea Anglers and the differences in relation to light line record fish recorded under the auspices of the International Game Fish Association.
In this age of Metrification, your club may have encountered difficulties in getting Scales and Balances which read in Imperial Measurement, Lbs, Ozs, and Drms, calibrated by your local Department of Weights & Measures.
If you have any doubts as to the certified accuracy of your official weigh-in scales, please contact a Nationally Accredited Company who can do this properly in Imperial or Decimal weights.
Know your own club rules, which may be different again from those detailed in this article.
Let's deal firstly with the requirements of the Angling Trust, the UK representative body for Recreational Sea Anglers.
These were previously laid out in detail in the 2005 National Federation of Sea Anglers Members' Handbook, which was sent out to all Affiliated Clubs and to Personal Members.
Page 23 referred, under the heading, "Specimen Fish Award Scheme 2005 - Rules". Paragraph 6 deals with weighing:
6. WEIGHING To qualify for the Principal Awards and Certificates of Merit -
All fish must be weighed on land on scales, steelyards, or spring balances.
All weighing must be certified in writing by an official of a recognised Angling Club, and two witnesses.
All weighing equipment must carry a current certificate of test.
Failure to comply with any of these requirements will render the registration null and void.
Certificates of Test are obtainable from the Department of Weights and Measures.
A copy of this Certificate must be sent to the Hon. Fish Recorder with a Club or Association's first registration made in any one year.
All weighing equipment must be tested every 5 years and carry a current Certificate of Test.
However, in the interests of conservation, the weight in lbs of the species Tope and Shark may be calculated using the following formula: Girth X Girth X Length divided by 800. All measurements should be taken in ins. The Girth is measured at the widest part of the fish, and the length, for the purposes of these formulae only, from tip of nose, to the fork in the tail. Tables of the formulae are available on request from the NFSA Head Office, as is a formula for calculating the weight of the Common Skate.
Weighing at Sea - In addition, provided the registration form so indicates, fish weighed at sea will be accepted, but any certificates awarded will clearly indicate that the weight of the fish was estimated and the fish returned alive to the sea.
O.K. so far, so good.
Next let us consider the slightly different requirements of the British Record (Rod Caught) Fish Committee, which are detailed on pages 51 to 55 of the 2005 NFSA Members' Handbook:
Page 52, Paragraph 5 deals with:
5. WEIGHT -
(a) The fish must be weighed on land using scales or steel yards, which can be tested on behalf of the Committee.
Where possible, commercial or trade scales which are checked regularly by the Weights and Measures Department should be used.
The sensitivity of the scales should be appropriate to the size of the fish, i.e. small fish should be weighed on finely graduated scales and the weight claimed for the fish should be to a division of weight, (ounce, dramme, gramme) not less than the smallest division shown on the scales.
(b) A Weights and Measures Certificate must be produced certifying the accuracy of the scales used and indicating testing at the claimed weight.
(c) In cases of species weighing less than one pound the claimed weight must be submitted in grammes.
(d) The weight must be verified by two independent witnesses or one and a sworn affidavit who, for example, should not be relations to the claimant.
Now it's time to scrutinise the requirements of the International Game Fish Association who deal with light line records such as those recently sought by Fred Hayward and Paul Cashmore.
There are many additional requirements regarding the registration of a claim with the IGFA which are comprehensively detailed in their handbook.
Their comprehensive 2005 handbook which covers Freshwater, Saltwater, and Fly fishing, details Weighing Requirements on page 169.
WEIGHING REQUIREMENTS -
1. The fish must be weighed by an official Weighmaster (if one is available) or by an IGFA Official or by a recognised local person familiar with the scale. Disinterested witnesses to the weight should be used whenever possible.
2. The weight of the sling, platform, or rope (if one is used to secure the fish on the scales) must be determined and deducted from the total weight.
3. At the time of weighing, the actual tackle used by the angler to catch the fish must be exhibited to the Weighmaster and weight witnesses.
4. No estimated weights will be accepted. Fish weighed only at sea or on other bodies of water will not be accepted.
5. Only weights indicated by the graduations on the scale will be accepted. Visual fractionalizing of these graduations is not allowed. Any weights that fall between two graduations on the scale must be rounded to the lower of the two.
6. All record fish should be weighed on scales that have been checked and certified for accuracy by Government Agencies, or other qualified and accredited organisations.
All scales must be regularly checked for accuracy and certified in accordance with applicable Government regulations at least once every twelve months.
If at the time of weighing, the fish the scale has not been properly certified within twelve months, it should be checked and certified for accuracy as quickly as possible.
An Official report stating the findings of the inspection prior to any adjustment of the scale must be included with the record application.
Page 170 deals with
SCALE CERTIFICATION -
1. If there is no official Government Inspector or accredited commercial scales representative available in the area where the fish is weighed, the scales must be checked by weighing objects of recognised and proven weight.
Objects weighed must be at least equal to the weight of the fish. Substantiation of the correct weight of these objects must be submitted to IGFA along with the names and complete addresses of accredited witnesses to the entire procedure.
2. In extreme remote areas where no weighing scales are available, it will be permissible for the angler to use his own scales providing that they are of a quality type and have been properly certified both before and after returning from the fishing trip.
3. IGFA reserves the right to require any scale to be re-certified for accuracy if there are any indications that the scale may not have weighed correctly.
Note: IGFA offers a scale testing service for members only.
ED: In any of the above cases you should read in full the detailed procedure in the relevant documentation as other conditions may apply regarding submission of claims.
The advice above relates only to weigh-in procedures and checking of scales for accuracy.
11th May 2005 - Updated 6th October 2010