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BROCHURE RACK

Where the tuna swim? Tracking tuna by satellite

07/05/2013 09:34:12
whales/Marine_2012/Yellowfin_Tuna_Yan

Yellowfin tuna are now classified as fully overexploited. Photo by Greg Yann

Tracking map reveals tuna movements in the Coral Triangle region

 May 2013. Data from pop-up satellite tags attached to adult yellowfin tuna show movements of this commercially-valuable species around Coral Triangle waters.

The movements of four mighty swimmers named Amihan, Badjao, Hagibis, and Buhawi, can now be followed via a species tracking map, that shows in color-coded coordinates, how far the fish have swam since being tagged off the western seaboard of Mindoro Occidental in the Philippines.

Large distances covered
"The data we have gathered so far reveal that tuna movements cover an impressive amount of nautical miles a day, travelling back and forth in a general north-south direction from where they were caught and released," says Dr. Jose Ingles, Tuna Strategy Leader of the WWF Coral Triangle Programme.

"While still preliminary, the results signify that to properly manage this yellowfin tuna stock, we need to consider similar or complimentary conservation measures along the geographic area of its movements."

WWF, in collaboration with the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), is conducting a tuna tagging project in Philippine waters to gather more data on the movements of yellowfin tuna.

Identify spawning zones
"Through this activity, we hope to identify key spawning, feeding, and nursery grounds of this much sought-after species and make a case for governments to protect these sites," adds Dr. Ingles.

The Coral Triangle
The Coral Triangle, which encompasses the seas of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste, is a known tuna nursery and migratory path, producing about 30 per cent of the total global tuna catch. The tuna industry is an economic driver in this part of the world, feeding millions of people and providing jobs and livelihood to thousands of fishers and their families who directly depend on ocean resources. 

Over extraction and illegal fishing
Increasing global demand for tuna, however, has driven the over extraction and illegal fishing of the species, causing an alarming decline in tuna stocks.

Yellowfin tuna are now classified as fully overexploited.

"By tagging tuna, we hope to gather critical information that can help protect the species in specific sites during its most vulnerable life stages. Data collected will help inform management plans for a more sustainable tuna industry in this part of the world," adds Dr. Ingles. 

A total of 16 pop-up satellite tags will be deployed on large adult yellowfin tunas (weighing more than 70 kg) throughout the duration of this activity.

Pop-up satellite tags, which are attached at the back of the tunas, collect vital data such as temperature, depth, and light intensity, and are programmed to automatically detach from the fish after three to six months when it floats to the surface and sends out information via satellite transmission and into a server.

 

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