Yellowfin tuna. (Photo Credit: WWF)
Yellowfin tuna being followed via tracking map
Tuesday, May 07, 2013, 03:00 (GMT + 9)
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), in collaboration with the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), launched an experiment that is now providing scientists with data from pop-up satellite tags attached to adult yellowfin tuna in the Coral Triangle.
Researchers can now follow the movements of four fish -- named Amihan, Badjao, Hagibis and Buhawi -- via a species tracking map.
The map uses colour-coded coordinates to show how far the fish have swum since they were tagged off the western coast of Mindoro Occidental in the Philippines. Yellowfin tuna are now classified as fully exploited.
“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,” said 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.”
Overall, the project will involve deploying 16 pop-up satellite tags on large adult yellowfin tuna fish (weighing more than 70 kg).
Pop-up satellite tags are attached at the back of the tuna to collect data about the tuna’s surroundings, such as temperature, depth and light intensity. The tags are programmed to automatically detach from the fish after three to six months, after which time they float to the surface and send out information via satellite transmission and into a server.
Through this tuna tagging project, the team hopes to identify key spawning, feeding and nursery grounds to persuade governments to protect those sites, said Ingles.
Encompassing the seas of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste, the Coral Triangle is a known tuna nursery and migratory path and the source of about 30 per cent of the world’s total tuna catch.
“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,” Ingles commented.
By Natalia Real