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Migration study finds that sweeping management changes are needed to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna

A team of marine scientists has mapped the undersea journeys of Atlantic bluefin tuna and concluded that tighter restrictions should be placed on commercial fishing to protect the feeding and breeding grounds of this top migratory predator--one of the most commercially valuable fish in the sea.

Researchers from Stanford University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium say that their new study, published in the April 28 edition of the journal Nature, offers substantial evidence that significant changes need to be made in how Atlantic bluefin tuna fisheries are managed internationally and in the United States.

"In my lifetime we've brought this majestic species to the doorstep of ecological extinction in the western Atlantic Ocean," says Barbara A. Block, the Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Professor in Marine Sciences at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station and lead author of the Nature study. "Electronic tagging provides the best scientific information we've ever had to properly manage these tuna and we must, as an international community, start to act responsibly to ensure the future of this species."

An expert on large migratory fish, Block is a founder and the co-director of the Tuna Research and Conservation Center (TRCC), a joint collaboration between Stanford and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. For the past 10 years, she and her colleagues have braved the rough waters of the Atlantic Ocean to carry out an unprecedented study of bluefin tuna migrations. Working with sport and commercial fishers in the Carolinas and New England, as well as commercial fleets in the Gulf of Mexico, TRCC researchers have placed electronic tags on hundreds of wild bluefin tuna ranging in size from 150 to 900 pounds. The tags track individual fish as they travel thousands of miles across the sea, to depths below 3,000 feet, in search of food and mates. Each tag records the tuna's migration pattern, diving behavior, body temperature and the temperature of the surrounding water.<
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Contact: Mark Shwartz
mshwartz@stanford.edu
650-723-9296
Stanford University
27-Apr-2005


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