Tri Marine Contributes to Improving the Science on Tuna

Company Supports Fishing Analyst at Sea to Tag Tunas

BELLEVUE, Wash. (October 28, 2015) - Tri Marine is a strong believer in a science-based approach to management of the world’s tuna stocks.  To help improve the science, the company sent their fishing analyst Beth Vanden Heuvel on a 28 day tagging operation in the South Pacific.  Beth is a marine biologist and works for Tri Marine Fishing Management where she evaluates satellite meteorological, oceanographic and other data to provide real-time fishing recommendations to the Cape Fleet, which fishes for Tri Marine.

“Tuna research is filled with challenges,” Vanden Heuvel said. “The vastness of their hidden habitat, species-specific behavioral differences and a highly migratory lifestyle only name a few. Luckily, scientists have found a way to circumvent some of these challenges.”

Since August of 2006, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has been conducting tuna tagging voyages in order to gain a better understanding of the status of the stocks and behavioral patterns of tropical tuna. To help advance the science, Tri Marine has historically arranged for SPC scientists to make trips on the Cape Fleet’s purse seiners and has provided access to drifting FADs (fish aggregating devices).

This year, Tri Marine sent its fishing analyst on a 28-day mission in a joint effort between SPC, Tri Marine and ISSF (International Sustainable Seafood Foundation). In addition, Tri Marine installed the onboard communications system and provided open access to FADs in the Western Central Pacific Ocean.

The mission included Vanden Heuvel, two other scientists, the captain and three crewmen on board the longliner F/V Gutsy Lady 4 which departed from Honolulu on September 7 and headed to the South Pacific (see our charted course in Figure 1 below.)

“Despite a slow start to the fishing (likely due to the effects of El Niño),” Vanden Heuvel added, “the trip was a success, resulting in 2,000 tags deployed (summarized in Table 1 below)."

Three methods of tags were used.

·     The first is a conventional tag that includes small plastic dart tags inserted into the back of the tuna. When fishermen capture tuna with these tags, SPC offers a financial reward for their return.

·     The second deployed an archival tag, which is put into the body cavity of the fish. It then records estimated depths, light intensity and both internal and external temperatures every 30 seconds.

·     The final method was acoustic tagging. In this method, acoustic receivers were installed at the FAD and then body cavity acoustic tags were implanted into a variety of FAD-associated species (skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye, silky sharks and spotted oceanic trigger fish). The acoustic receiver on the FAD records movement data sent from the tagged fish as long as they stay within the range of the FAD receiver.

“The value of these studies is immeasurable for the sustainability of the tuna industry” Vanden Heuvel said. “The data gathered can be used to assess the health of tuna stocks, reduce bycatch, improve species targeting, and gain a better understanding of both migration and behavioral patterns of FAD-associated species. If we are to manage our tuna stocks properly, all of this information is critical.”


Background ON Tri Marine

Tri Marine is a recognized leader in fishing, processing and distributing high-quality tuna products to the world’s markets.  The company focuses on quality, sustainability, innovation, and customer satisfaction.  As a socially responsible operator, Tri Marine has chosen to invest and to become heavily involved in communities closest to the fisheries resources.  Together with its workforce of over 5,000 employees, Tri Marine is committed to all of its customers, suppliers and stakeholders for the long-term. For more information, visit