Posted on 13 May 2013
When we launched the tuna tracking map story in time for the World Tuna Day last May 2, we got a lot of feedback and congratulations. This success, however, is the result of many lessons we’ve learned from our first experience in Indonesia last year.
When we launched the tuna tracking map story in time for the World Tuna Day last May 2, we got a lot of feedback and congratulations. It was tweeted and re-tweeted and here in the Philippines, at least three major news agencies featured the story.
It is such a beautiful feeling to get people interested in this tuna tagging exercise we’re currently undertaking in the Philippines. This success, however, is the result of many lessons we’ve learned from our first experience in Indonesia last year.
The fishery we worked with in Indonesia was a tuna handline fishery operating on West Banda Sea, consisting of four islands known collectively as WAKATOBI—an acronym coined from joining the first syllable of the names of the four islands. Similar to the Philippines, it is a yellowfin tuna small scale fishery using simple handline. In this area, the fishers mainly belong to the Bugis tribe.
This fishery mainly uses dolphins as “guides” to locate tuna. And when dolphins are not around, fishers make use of Fish Aggregating Devices—man-made floating structures that attract schools of tuna.
Dolphin pods are usually revealed by the presence of birds (terns, gulls) that partake in the feeding frenzy generated by small open-water fish being chased by tuna, which in turn are chased by dolphins.
What a wonderful experience it is to witness this food chain in action before you!
To name a few, some of the valuable techniques learned from our tuna tagging experiences in Indonesia include: using only pop-up tags instead of internal archival tags; choosing carefully the right fish to be tagged by taking into consideration the depth, time of capture, and time it takes to bring the fish to the surface; and selecting the right kind of boat appropriate for tagging activities. We also learned that clearly explaining the purpose of the tagging activity to the fishers and to the community is critical to getting their cooperation and a better understanding of their cultural beliefs about tuna—without which fishers will not be willing to sell their tunas for such experiments.
I share this success with my colleagues from WWF-Indonesia, Sugi, Habib, Yusuf, Imam, and our friends Thomas and Tegoeh from the Research institute of Marine Fisheries, and Hardin of Wakatobi National Park Office, who have all contributed to the success of this current tagging in the Philippines. To them I owe this success.
Posted by Jose Ingles