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Movement and vulnerability of bigeye (Thunnus obesus) and yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) in relation to FADs and natural aggregation points

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 July 2000

David G. Itano
Pelagic Fisheries Research Program, University of Hawaii/JIMAR, MSB 312, 1000 Pope Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
Kim N. Holland
Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii, P0 Box 1346, Kaneohe, HI 96744, USA
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In Hawaii, a variety of small- and medium-scale pelagic fisheries target fishing effort on a network of coastal moored FADs, natural inshore tuna aggregation points, offshore seamounts and offshore weather monitoring buoys. Large-scale longline vessels also operate in the Hawaii exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and beyond. These circumstances provide an ideal setting for tag-and-release experiments designed to elucidate the movement patterns, residence times, exchange rates and vulnerability of bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) and yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) within the Hawaiian EEZ. Preliminary recapture data indicate that FADs, island reef ledges and seamounts exert an overwhelming influence on the catchability of tuna. Recapture rates from these locations vastly outweigh tag returns from open water areas. As of August 31, 1999, a total of l5387 bigeye and, yellowfin tuna ranging in size from 29 to 133 cm fork length (FL) and from 26 to143 cm FL respectively (mean 59.8 ± 14.1 cm; 58.4 ± 17.3 cm) have been tagged and released throughout the Hawaii EEZ. Recapture rates for both species have been similar with an overall recapture rate of l0.3 %. The location of tag releases reflects the importance of associative behavior and schooling to the vulnerability of tuna; seamounts and FADs accounted for 72.4 % and 23.5 % of all tag releases. Within the main Hawaiian Island group (excluding the offshore seamounts and buoys), 83.1 % of all recaptures have been made on anchored FADs and 11.9 % of recaptures have come from ledges or tuna aggregation areas close to the islands where bigeye and yellowfin tuna become vulnerable to hook and line gear. As these studies continue, additional and longer-term recaptures will provide increasingly detailed information on the movement patterns and vulnerability of bigeye and yellowfin tuna as they grow, move and recruit to different fisheries.

Research Article
© Elsevier, Inra, Ifremer, Cemagref, Ird, Cnrs, 2000

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