Yellowfin tuna behavioural ecology and catchability in the South Atlantic: The right place at the right time (and depth).
The yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares: YFT) is a widely distributed, migratory species that supports valuable commercial fisheries. Landings of YFT are seasonally and spatially variable, reflecting changes in their availability and accessibility to different fleets and metiers which, in turn, has implications for sustainable management. Understanding the dynamics of YFT behaviour and how it is affected by biological and ecological factors is therefore of consequence to fisheries management design. Archival and pop-up satellite tags (PSAT) were used in the South Atlantic Ocean around St Helena between 2015 and 2020 to collect information on the movements, foraging and locomotory behaviour of YFT. The study aimed to (1) identify vertical behaviour of YFT within St Helena's EEZ; (2) assess the timing and depth of potential feeding events and (3) to use the information to inform on the catchability of YFT to the local pole and line fishing fleet. Results indicate that the YFT daytime behaviour shifted between shallow with high incidence of fast starts in surface waters in summer months (December to April), to deep with high incidence of strikes at depth in colder months (May to November). Catchability of YFT was significantly reduced between May and November as YFT spent more time at depths below 100 m during the day, which coincides with a reduction in the quantity of YFT caught by the inshore fleet.
Authors: Wright, S., Righton, D., Naulaerts, J., Schallert, R.J., Griffiths, C., Chapple, T., Madigan, D.J., Laptikhovsky, V., Bendall, V., Hobbs, R., Beare, D., Clingham, E., Block, B.A., Collins, M.A. ORCID record for M.A. Collins