Tri Marine’s Cape Finisterre Embarks on Important Tuna Research Trip
For Immediate Release on 21 May, 2013
Researchers Study Behavior of Fish & Sharks for Breakthrough in Bycatch Prevention
PAGO PAGO, AMERICAN SAMOA – 21 May 2013 – A veteran group of scientists and fishers will embark on a weeks-long journey through the Pacific in search of better fishing practices, identifying techniques that reduce the potentially wasteful catch of unwanted species. They’ll be onboard Tri Marine’s Cape Finisterre for the sixth leg of the ISSF #BycatchProject in a region where roughly 51 percent of the world’s tuna is fished. At least 75 percent of the catch is made by purse seine vessels, which use a net to encircle and catch tuna. The #BycatchProject aims to reduce bycatch associated with purse seine vessels, particularly those that utilize floating objects, called fish aggregating devices, or FADs.
Building on the experience from the previous trips, the research team will focus on three main projects, including observing tuna swimming underneath fish aggregating devices (FADs), as well as studying how these fish behave inside the fishing net. This information helps to determine how different species might separate when encircled in a net, which could provide opportunities for releasing the non-targeted catch.
This is the second time Tri Marine
has had this important work conducted onboard the Cape
Finisterre. “We’re thrilled to get back out on the
water, along with this crew in order to build upon our
successes from last year,” said lead scientist Jeff
Muir. “And these truly are ‘our’ successes. The guys
that work on this vessel played an important role in our
project last year and they will be just as important to
the discovery process this time.”
Researchers will also spend part of their trip tracking large marine animals. The survival of these species – such as sharks and manta rays – will be studied through tagging onboard the Cape Finisterre. When the opportunity arises, researchers will handle the animals using identified best practices, tag them and then release them back into the Pacific. Stress or physical damage can prevent them from thriving once released, so tagging and following the released sharks and rays can help to determine their chances of survival.
According to ISSF President Susan Jackson, “Supporting scientific initiatives to reduce the impact of FAD usage on tuna stocks and the greater marine ecosystem is a core component of ISSF’s strategic vision and this cruise promises to advance our understanding of what works, and what doesn’t.”
ISSF’s 5-year strategic plan focuses on fishery performance improvement through support of initiatives and science-based approaches to the continuous improvement of tuna fisheries. This includes addressing core issues, like bycatch and FADs, which will most directly improve tuna fisheries. By facilitating scientific exploration in the area of bycatch, Tri Marine and ISSF develop and share best practices for fishing fleets. Findings of the #BycatchProject inform best practices workshops and guidebooks.For real-time updates from researchers follow #BycatchProject and @ISSF on Twitter.
About the #BycatchProject
Since 2011, ISSF has sponsored a series of cruises for scientific researchers to work with fishers to find methods to mitigate bycatch and better understand how fish behave around FADs. These globally coordinated cruises covered the Indian and Pacific Oceans and lasted anywhere from 11 days to two and a half months. The research team worked to gain scientific inputs to initiate improvements within the tuna purse seine fishery to reduce the environmental impact of fishing for tuna with FADs. Each cruise accomplished a series of tasks to test improved gear designs and study the behavior of tuna and non-targeted species gathering at FADs. Researchers also tracked the survival of sharks released after being caught.
About the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF)The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is a global coalition of scientists, the tuna industry and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world’s leading conservation organization, promoting science-based initiatives for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks, reducing bycatch and promoting ecosystem health. To learn more, visit their website at iss-foundation.org.
Background on Tri Marine
Tri Marine’s business includes fishing, procurement, processing, and trading of tuna and other seafood products. A privately held company headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, Tri Marine has offices in 14 countries with 12 processing plants strategically located around the globe. The company’s fleet of 21 fishing vessels operates primarily in the Western Pacific, ten based in American Samoa. Since its founding in 1971 in Singapore, Tri Marine has grown to be one of the largest tuna supply companies in the world serving well-known CPG brands as well as processing plants and fishing companies.