Fisheries Story: A large-scale tuna sampling operation organised by SPC fisheries scientists


On Wednesday 2nd June 2021; a large-scale tuna sampling operation mobilised eight SPC fisheries science staff for an intense day cutting through 70 skipjack and yellowfin tuna from Papua New Guinea (PNG).

In early April 2021, SPC staff gave detailed instructions to Robert Ano, a PNG-at-sea observer based in Port Moresby to select small and large tuna from identified purse seine sets at the RD Fishing Ltd cannery in Madang, PNG.

The frozen fish were stored in a freezer container that departed Madang mid-April and was shipped to Noumea, arriving at the end of May. Thanks to the local Albacore fishing company’s facilities, the fish were stored after release by Customs. SPC fisheries scientists were also able to use Albacore’s cutting lab to process all the fish; with the help of company staff who handled the saw, all fish were cut into pieces, still frozen, and some of the internal organs were collected for the Pacific Marine Specimen Bank. These samples will be examined for information on tuna growth, their diet and biology. The samples and pieces are now at SPC Noumea, and more work is required to extract the otoliths, and to recut the large pieces of muscle into smaller samples according to strict sampling protocols to analyse microplastic and persistent organic pollutant levels. A great success involving many people and a lot of coordination!

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Fisheries, Aquaculture & Marine Ecosystems (FAME) Division