Spain spends €1.5m on bluefin tuna projects

Funded with EUR 1.51 million (USD 1.86 million), Basque-based researchers AZTI-Tecnalia will oversee two bluefin tuna projects to provide independent estimates of stock numbers and mortality rates.

A key 2012 initiative 80 percent co-funded by the European Union, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) selected AZTI-Tecnalia to lead the projects formed by international consortia of 23 institutions and research centers including from Algeria, Canada, China, Croatia, Japan, Morocco, Norway, Tunisia, Turkey, the United States and Chinese Taipei.

The first project, valued at EUR 1.08 million (USD 1.33 million), will tag and release 11,750 bluefin with conventional tags. Of those, 40 percent will feature a double tag, at least 50 tuna will feature internal electronic tags and 40 will incorporate external electronic pop-up tags.

This project will focus on important biological and ecological aspects, and provide independent estimates of bluefin abundance and mortality rates in the Bay of Biscay, Straits of Gibraltar, Bay of León and Ionian Sea-Central Mediterranean.

The second project, valued at EUR 430,000 (USD 530,000), will biologically and genetically sample bluefin to provide valuable insights into population structure, migration patterns, mixing rates and growth and reproduction levels.

Both projects aim to facilitate better understanding of the species through basic data collection, improved assessment models, scientific advice on stock status and make publicly available bluefin population structures.

In a meeting with Murcia fishermen, Carlos Domínguez, Spain’s secretary general of fishing, highlighted the value of scientific research in the captive breeding of bluefin as an “example for the whole Mediterranean,” describing fattening and exploitation processes as “so insulted at times, and when carried out rigorously has no risk and contributes to restoring its population.”

Domínguez visited Murcian company Caladeros del Mediterráneo, part of the Ricardo Fuentes group, and welcomed scientific advances that “get close to the reproductive cycle of tunas and reduce dependence on tuna fishing in the wild as an alternative.”

Currently, 45 of the 3,000 bluefin cultivated at the Murcia Oceanographic Centre last October already weigh 4 kilograms, while 2,600 larva have reached 5 kilograms this year from a new campaign of adult specimens housed in open sea cages. ?


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