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Climate change
Modelling effects of climate change on tuna
Friday, 18 February 2011 10:43

Background

The tuna fishery in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) has undergone continuous expansion over the past 30 years, with the catch of skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye and albacore tunas reaching 2.4 million tonnes in 2007. The landed value of the catch in 2007 was approximately USD 4 billion, with considerable economic benefits accruing to Pacific Island Countries and Territories through direct participation in the fishery, employment, onshore processing, provision of fleet services and support, and foreign access licence fees.

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Impacts of ocean acidification on tropical tuna
Friday, 18 February 2011 15:09

The unaccounted impacts of ocean acidification (and warming) upon tuna stocks in the Pacific (and globally) represent a serious risk to the achievement of sustainability based management objectives for both Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOS) and for the policies of sovereign states responsible for tuna fisheries management in the Pacific region.  Research has demonstrated that the early life history stages of some fish species (and numerous other marine organisms) are sensitive to ocean acidification levels that are projected to occur by the end of this century. Those findings have significant implications for future recruitment success and population levels for those species. Utilising the long established expertise and unique facilities at the IATTC’s Achotines Laboratory in Panama, the first year of this project aims to elucidate the impacts of projected ocean acidification levels upon processes and life history stages of yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacores) that are considered critical to recruitment success: sperm motility, fertilisation rates, embryonic development, hatching rates, condition, development, growth and survival in pre- and post-feeding larvae.  Empirical results from the laboratory trials will then be used, in conjunction with physical oceanographic data from ocean acidification projection models, to parameterise the SEAPODYM model and evaluate the impact of ocean acidification upon the distribution and abundance of yellowfin tuna in the Pacific Ocean. The outputs from this project will reduce uncertainty regarding future stock trends as provided to tuna RFMOs in the Pacific, increasing the likelihood that these organisations can make decisions that ultimately achieve sustainability based management objectives.

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