A bigeye tuna has been re-captured nearly 13 years after it was originally caught, tagged and released as part of a scientific experiment.
The 100-kilogram tuna was caught 1000 kilometers east of Fiji, and the tag returned to fisheries scientists in Noumea. Scientists were surprised that the tuna was retrieved very close to its release position. The monitoring program is organised by the Fisheries Division of Secretariat oft he Pacific Community (SPC) as part of a research effort to maintain the h sustainability of tuna fisheries in the Pacific. Scientists say that 13 years on the run is close to a record period of freedom in SPC’s tuna-tagging programme, which began in the 1970s. Bruno Leroy, a fisheries scientist with SPC, says that this fish is a great find. “Recovering the tags is crucial to the success of our programme because they provide information on the growth, movements, natural mortality and fishing mortality of tuna, and help us estimate the status of tuna stocks and the impact of fishing. Tuna fishing is the biggest industry in the Pacific, worth $5 billion per year. It provides food, employment and income to the 10 million people living in the region. “Monitoring fish populations is a big part of keeping a check on tuna,” Bruno Leroy says. “In 2006 we launched the biggest tuna tagging program in the world. Since, we have tagged closed to 400,000 fish and over 60,000 of these have been recaptured.