Marine zoning in the Pacific Ocean, in combination with other measures, could significantly improve numbers of heavily overfished bigeye tuna and improve local economies, a fish modelling study has found.
Scientists working at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (Honolulu, HI), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC, Noumea, New Caledonia) and Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS, Toulouse, France), have found that a network of marine zones in the Pacific Ocean could be a more effective conservation measure than simply closing relatively small areas to some types of fishing. These marine zones, where different fishing activities are allowed in different areas, may have significant and widespread benefits for bigeye tuna numbers. Dr John Sibert of the University of Hawaii Joint Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Research is one of four scientists leading the study. After testing the effectiveness of a range of conservation measures with an ecosystem and fish population model, Dr Sibert says the team found that the most effective measures were to:
"We found that simply closing areas off to fishing doesn't work, because the boats just move their operations to neighbouring zones and fish even harder. It's going to need a combination of approaches," he says.
"The model will help people evaluate alternative policies to manage tropical tuna fisheries. Our predictions can help countries estimate how effective conservation measures might be, relative to any economic effects, and tailor measures to suit their goals. The advantage of this approach is that effects can be estimated locally, as well as for the stock as a whole."
Half the current bigeye tuna catch is by longline, which targets high-value tuna sold as fresh fish. These fish command a market premium and sell for over $10 per kilogram.
The other half is caught in purse-seine nets as incidental bycatch when aiming to catch skipjack tuna. These juvenile bigeye tuna are sold to the canning industry for $1.70 per kilogram.
Dr Sibert says the study calls for a complete economic valuation of the Western Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) tuna fishery.
He says the most effective conservation measures are those "which protect fish throughout their lifetime."
Rebuilding the bigeye-tuna stock will take at least 15 years, and will be affected by any climate changes the ecosystems experience.
Sibert, J., I. Senina, P. Lehodey, and J. Hampton. 2012. Shifting from marine reserves to maritime zoning for conservation of Pacific bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus). PNAS 109(44): 18221.
University of Hawaii ‑ SOEST:
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Scientists circumnavigating the globe on a spartan racing catamaran will spend the coming year deploying drones to collect better data on plastic pollution
A patch of gold electrodes you can wear behind your ear for up to two weeks will track your brainwaves 24/7 and let you control devices with your mind
Scientists have peeked inside the brain of a man with tinnitus to identify the brainwaves that underlie the debilitating sensation of ringing in the ear
For extinct creatures like dinosaurs known only from fossils, it is notoriously difficult to differentiate the males from the females of a species because sex distinctions are rarely obvious from the skeletons.
The most complete genetic information assembled on woolly mammoths is providing insight into their demise, revealing they suffered two population crashes before a final, severely inbred group succumbed on an Arctic Ocean island.
More than 30 million crows fly around the country, but among all creatures, the birds may be among the least understood. Ben Tracy reports on new research into crows' brains.
Mouse study demonstrates method to target mutations in DNA inherited from mother
After consulting a "stud book," the Zoo brought a male panda's sperm back to D.C., setting an exciting precedent
Stegosaurs may have sported quite different shaped bony plates on their backs, depending on whether they were male or female, new research claims.
Targeting a protein that causes rampant growth of cells in retinal blood vessels could lead to new treatments for vision loss in older people