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New Satellite Tags Track Movements Of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

atch quotas only since 1995, with a 25 percent reduction to be fully implemented this year.

"It's now possible -- and imperative -- to make use of satellite tag technology to determine the extent of transatlantic migrations," Block says. "In that way, management strategies can reflect fish behavior in the real world. With this technology it will be possible to manage giant bluefin tuna so mature breeding stocks could recover in our lifetime."

A 1994 report by the National Research Council recommended that fisheries scientists test the stock structure theories to confirm whether bluefin tuna are one or two stocks in the Atlantic Ocean.

"We believe that the advanced tagging technologies currently being applied to Atlantic bluefin tuna could provide essential information for resolving questions about the existence of one or two management units," added Eric Prince, chief of the migratory fishery biology division of the National Marine Fisheries Service in Miami, Florida.

According to Block, the satellite tags can be used to provide similar information about other pelagic fish species whose lives are equally mysterious. To date, she and her colleagues have put the tags on bluefin and yellowfin tuna, blue and striped marlins and salmon sharks.

What sets the satellite tags apart from other fish-tagging methods is the fact that scientists can recover the data without relying on tagged fish being caught and the tags voluntarily turned in to their labs by fishermen.

Historically, about 13 percent of conventional bluefin tags ;have been recovered. In the 1996 and 1997 experiments, data were recovered from 35 of 37 satellite tags. Importantly, this indicates high survivorship of the tag-and-release fish.

The tags were developed in collaboration with Paul Howey of Telemetry 2000, Inc. Tagging took place in a collaboration among the TRCC, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the recreational fishing community off Cape Hatteras. The research was finance
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Contact: Ken Peterson
kpeterson@mbayaq.org
831-648-4922
Stanford University
4-Aug-1998


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