Four-year forecasts possible for Hawaii bigeye tuna fishery

National Fisherman

Measuring the extent of microscopic ocean plant life around Hawaii could reliably predict bigeye tuna catch rates four years out for Hawaii’s deep-set longline fleet, according to a new study by researchers at the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.

“Bigeye tuna are the primary target species of Hawaii’s most valuable commercial fishery, a longline fishery with landings that are valued at over $100 million and that account for nearly half the United States tuna landings,” NMFS scientists Phoebe A. Woodworth-Jefcoats and Johanna L. K. Wren wrote in their study, published July 22 in the journal Fisheries Oceanography.

“A reliable predictor of targeted species catch rates could help the fishery time fishing activity and plan capital improvements. It could also potentially inform adaptive management and facilitate ecosystem‐based fisheries management.”

Using routine oceanographic measurements including satellite data for sea surface chlorophyll and temperature, the researchers calculated the median size of microscopic plants, called phytoplankton, over the calendar year and the extent of the fishery area around the Hawaiian Islands.

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