Good news to announce today, as we are adding Bigeye Tuna (Thunnus obesus) to the ATLANTIC TUNA PROJECT. As we saw last year in the canyons for a short 2 week period, bigeye tuna are incredibly special. Large, nomadic, aggressive, wolf pack hunters and wily, the bigeye is a treasure that we must fight to protect. So today we are officially rolling the protection of bigeye into our efforts. The tagging process remains the same as bluefin and yellowfin. The tags you receive from the Cooperative Tagging Center can be used on bigeye (as well as yellowfin, bluefin and marlin) however here on the site we will be addressing bigeye as a target species we will address. So look for reports on tagging of bigeye, data related to where they travel and how we can take further measures to protect them. For this upcoming season, I am asking all Atlantic Tuna Project network boats to please consider tagging bigeye that you might catch. We are aware that catching these tuna is rare, but we need more data now more than ever. Bigeye tuna are amongst the tuna species most threatened by overfishing. Juvenile bigeye tuna associate closely with floating objects such as logs, buoys and other flotsam, which makes them extremely susceptible to purse seine fishing in conjunction with man-made fish aggregation devices. The removal of large numbers of juvenile bigeye before they reach breeding age is a major concern to fisheries managers, scientists and sport fishermen. (wikipedia excerpt).
Longer-lived than the closely related yellowfin tuna, the bigeye is thought to have a lifespan of up to 12 years, with sexual maturity at the age of four. Spawning takes place in June and July in the northwestern tropical Atlantic, and in January and February in the Gulf of Guinea, which is the only known nursery area for Atlantic bigeye. This is where we think the problems are taking place regarding overfishing of both bigeye and yellowfin.
For the first time ever, NOAA shut down the Hawaii based longline fleet from catching bigeye in the western and central Pacific for the final three days of 2009, having reached the internationally-agreed catch limit of 3,673 metric tons (3,615 long tons). This limit is 30% lower than that of earlier years and will also apply to 2010. The ban does not apply to yellowfin and other fishes or bigeye in the eastern Pacific.Join me in taking further measures to protect the bigeye tuna. If you have any questions send me a message here on the site.