WWF follows tuna in the Coral Triangle



Posted on 06 February 2013  | 
Dr Jose Ingles ("Jingles") preparing a tuna tag
© Jose InglesEnlarge
Mindoro Occidental, Philippines – WWF, in collaboration with the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), has embarked on a tuna tagging project in Coral Triangle waters to gather more data on the movements of yellowfin tuna and to identify key spawning, feeding, and nursery grounds of this commercially-valuable species.

This tagging activity is being conducted in different areas in the country, starting in one of WWF’s Fishery Improvement Project sites 100 kilometers off the western seaboard of Mindoro Occidental—an area identified by fishers as a site where yellowfin tunas can be found.

“Very little is known about the natural habits of this valuable open water species in the Philippines, which proves the need to invest more on research,” says Dr. Jose Ingles, Tuna Strategy Leader of the WWF Coral Triangle Programme.

“Through this tagging activity, we hope to get a better understanding of the behavior of tunas—where and how long they stay in a particular water column, where they feed, and where they stay during their reproductive phase,” added Dr. Ingles.

Data collected will provide critical information that can help protect the species in specific sites during its most vulnerable life stages.

“Knowing where these critical tuna habitats are will help inform management plans for a more sustainable tuna industry in this part of the world and help make a stronger case for implementing and enforcing more Marine Protected Areas that provide countless benefits to millions of people.”

The Coral Triangle, which encompasses the seas of six countries in the Asia-Pacific region, is a known tuna nursery area and migratory path.

Tuna caught in the Coral Triangle makes for about 30 per cent of the total global tuna catch, contributing as much as 35 per cent to the total tuna catch coming from the Western Central Pacific Ocean, which accounts for more than half the world’s tuna production.

Tuna is a multi-million dollar industry in this part of the world, feeding millions of people, providing jobs and livelihood, and sustaining economies in this region.

However, this industry is scrambling to supply growing international demand for tuna, putting more pressure on already heavily fished tuna stocks in the Western and Central and Indian oceans of the Coral Triangle region.

Some tuna species such as the much sought-after bigeye and yellowfin tunas are now fully exploited, and signs of overfishing are occurring in the country.

A total of 16 pop-up satellite tags will be deployed on large adult yellowfin tunas (weighing more than 70 kg) throughout the duration of this activity.

Pop-up satellite tags, which are attached at the back of the tunas, collect vital data such as temperature, depth, and light intensity, and are programmed to automatically detach from the fish after three to six months when it floats to the surface and sends out information via satellite transmission and into a server.

Follow the tuna tagging adventures of Dr. Ingles through this blog: wwf.panda.org/tunataggingblog/

This tuna tagging activity is supported by the Postcode Lottery Project Oceans, Turing Foundation, the Crown Family Foundation, and by Edeka Group from Germany.



ENDS
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Editors note:
  • The Coral Triangle—the nursery of the seas—is the world’s center of marine life, encompassing around 6 million sq km of ocean across six countries in Asia-Pacific – Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste.
  • It is home to 76% of the world’s known coral species, 37% of the world’s coral reef fish species, and commercially-valuable species such as tuna, whales, dolphins, rays, sharks, including 6 of the world’s 7 known species of marine turtles.
  • The Coral Triangle directly sustains the lives of more than 120 million people and contains key spawning and nursery grounds for tuna. Its reef and coastal systems also underpin a growing tourism sector.
  • WWF is working with governments, local communities, businesses, and consumers to promote sustainable development in this region. For information on Coral Triangle go to: www.panda.org/coraltriangle

For further information:

Paolo P. Mangahas, Communications Manager, WWF Coral Triangle Programme, Tel: +603 7803 3772, Email: pmangahas@wwf.org.my
Dr Jose Ingles ("Jingles") preparing a tuna tag
© Jose Ingles Enlarge
Tuna being tagged with a pop-up satellite tag off the coast of Mindoro, in the Philippines.
© Jose Ingles / WWF Enlarge

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