The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT), under the Atlantic Ocean Tropical Tuna Tagging Programme (AOTTP), has funded a Tuna Tagging Programme, focused on the waters of St Helena, between July 2018 and June 2019.
The programme, which is worth around Pound 150,000 to the Island economy, will be delivered by the Environmental Management Division's (EMD) Marine Conservation Section, with support from members of the inshore and offshore fishing fleets.
The programme is being delivered on behalf of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas) in the UK and will look to deploy 5,600 tags on a variety of tuna species including, Yellowfin, Bigeye and Skipjack. Conventional (dart) tags will make up most of the releases, with some satellite and internal data storage tags also deployed.
The overall objective of this programme is to contribute to the food security and economic growth of St Helena and Atlantic coastal states by ensuring sustainable management of their tropical tuna resources.
The recaptured tags will be used to calculate key population parameters in support of stock assessments, which include:
migration and stock structure
Marine Conservation Officer, Rhys Hobbs, said:
This is a great opportunity to continue and expand the current tagging programme we are currently carrying out under the Blue Belt Programme. The support of the local fishing industry has been crucial in assisting with the tag deployment and recapture and I hope that will continue. The programme is a great way for us to learn more about the fish, their behaviour, and how St Helena can continue to fish sustainably.
Fish Ecologist (Cefas), Serena Wright, added:
This tagging programme will help to ensure the sustainable management of tuna resources in St Helena waters. In addition to better understanding St Helena's tuna stocks, this programme of work offers a great opportunity for St Helena to be seen as an international leader in tuna research. To make this project achievable the continuing support from the local community will be key.
To make this work possible, the Marine Section needs your help. If you catch a tuna with a yellow/orange tag attached, please note the location where the fish was caught and the fork length. Additionally, if the fish has a red tag, please keep the whole fish and the market rate will be paid.
A Pound 10 reward will be paid for returned tags (Pound 5 after 500 rewards have been paid). A small proportion of the tagged tuna will have additional tags (satellite or internal electronic tags) which provide more detailed information about the tuna's behaviour. Pound 100 will be paid for internal or satellite tags returned.
Source: St Helena Government