Tuna Tagging
Friday, 15 October 2010 11:31
Tuna tagging programmes are a major tool for advancing the scientific knowledge available to resource managers to evaluate and appropriately manage tuna fisheries. Data from these programmes provide information on tuna population dynamics that are otherwise difficult to obtain (e.g., natural mortality, size selectivity, catchability and movement). Consequently, tagging studies make an ideal complement to traditional stock assessment approaches and almost always improve the accuracy and precision of the key management quantities being estimated. 
This is particularly relevant for tuna fisheries where traditional fishery survey techniques (e.g., trawl and acoustics surveys) are not feasible.  In important and expanding fisheries, such as the western and central Pacific tuna fishery, robust assessments of stock status are critical to maximise harvest opportunities without compromising sustainability and  OFP has implemented 3 regional scale tuna tagging programmes since 1978 and curates data from other national scale programmes to assist these assessments.  The most recent regional scale programme, the Pacific Tuna Tagging Project commenced in 2006 and has tagged over 270,000 tuna with conventional and electronic tags thanks to the donor support from Papua New Guinea, New Zealand (NZAID), Australia (ACIAR), Europe (EDF9, EDF10), Korea, Republic of China, France (Fonds  Pacifique), GEF and the WCPFC.  This is the largest tuna tagging programme ever implemented and the data collected is being used in current stock assessments, national analyses and to answer key management questions such as the impact of high density FAD deployments on tuna ecology. Capacity within SPC member countries has been increased through the implementation of these regional scale programs and Papua New Guinea has recently committed to an expanded tuna tagging program within its waters for the next 3 years.
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