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Census of Marine Life historians detail collapse of bluefin tuna population off northern Europe

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Two fish tagged within minutes of each other wound up more than 5,000 km apart eight months later. One traveled 6,000 km southwest in 177 days past Bermuda to waters about 300 kilometres northeast of Cuba; the other remained in the eastern Atlantic and moved off the coasts of Portugal. A third tagged bluefin swam into the Mediterranean Sea and was caught by fishers southeast of Malta in 2005.

Experts believe there are two stocks of Atlantic bluefin tuna, one that spawns in the Mediterranean Sea, the other in the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Straits. Its theorized that the two stocks forage together in the North Atlantic and travel to opposite sides of the ocean to reproduce.

These tagging data potentially provides new evidence that mixing is occurring in the northern waters of the eastern Atlantic and complement prior data showing that the western and eastern stocks of north Atlantic bluefin mingle in rich foraging grounds of the central Atlantic, says Barbara Block, chief scientist of the CoML Tagging of Pacific Predators program and TAG.

Its possible all three fish were spawned in the Mediterranean, she emphasized. Were conducting genetic tests on fin clips taken while tagging to help confirm the origins of the specific bluefin tuna that we followed electronically.

The research is funded by Irelands Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the Packard Foundation and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation.

Understanding the Gulf of Mexico Bluefin Tuna Breeding Area

Yet another modern tagging experiment has yielded important new insights into the vital bluefin breeding area in the Gulf of Mexico and the oceanographic conditions in which the adult tuna court and spawn.

The work by U.S. researchers Steven L. H. Teo, Andre M. Boustany and Barbara Block, for publication in the journal Marine Biology, sheds light on habitat used by spawning bluefin tuna and may one day lead to better protection
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Contact: Terry Collins
terrycollins@rogers.com
416-538-8712
Census of Marine Life
5-Aug-2007


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