Satellite Data to Protect Bluefin Tuna

Written by on November 25, 2011 in Marine Life, Technology

Emily Tripp
Senior Writer

Scientists from the European Commission’s Joint Research Center (JRC) have developed a new model that will track bluefin tuna on a daily basis through satellite remote sensing data. This model provides the first overall view of preferred bluefin tuna habitats in the Mediterranean Sea.

Tracking populations via satellite will refine estimates of fish stocks, help determine areas to be inspected or protected, determine areas to be off-limits for fishing, and will contribute to more effective fisheries management.

Bluefin tuna is a popular commercial fish.  Because of its high market value, it has been consistently over-exploited for th past 15 years. The largest stock of adults today is located in the Mediterranean Sea which is now at is lowest in history, around 40 percent of late 1950’s levels.

Bluefin tuna

Bluefin tuna

“This model will help to ensure sustainable management of bluefin tuna, actively contributing to two of the most pressing challenges for the future: food security and protection of the environment.  Another good example of how science and research provide support to European Union policies,” explained European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn

The JRC habitat model will allow the creation of real-time maps of potential feeding and spawning bluefin habitats.  The model uses sea surface temperature and the concentration of chlorophyll on the sea surface to track certain oceanographic features which play a key role in fish distribution.

The resulting satellite data proved that bluefin tuna feeding and spawning is concentrated in certain recurrent locations.  Results also showed a seasonal change in habitat size and location, in addition to yearly variations in spawning habitat.

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, said “Responsible fisheries management decisions that ensure the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources and the availability of fish for future generations worldwide rely on good science.  New findings, like the JRC’s new model, will help us greatly in our efforts to protect bluefin tuna and fight illegal fishing practices.”

You can read more about the model here.

Copyright ©  2011 by Marine Science Today, a publication of OceanLines LLC

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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