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Bluefin tuna tagging study in Island waters

10 September 2021

A project to understand the movement and behaviour of bluefin tuna in Jersey waters by using electronic tagging started last week.

 Marine Resources, in collaboration with the University of Exeter tagged seven fish using specialised equipment. Dr Lucy Hawkes, a leading research scientist from the University led the team from Marine Resources to make sure the tagging was done safely, ensuring there was minimum stress to the fish.

Alex Plaster, Fisheries Officer said; "It has been a great opportunity to work with the team from Exeter who are experts in this technology. The bluefin tuna is an emerging species in our waters and now, as a result of the data we will be able to collect, through the satellite tags, the daily locations, routes and behaviour of the fish.

"We do know that over the past decade shoals of Atlantic bluefin tuna have been documented in the Western English Channel, Celtic Deeps, West Coast of Ireland and the Western Isles of Scotland. Since 2016 bluefin tuna have been regularly sighted inside Jersey's territorial waters, usually during late summer and autumn months and sometimes in shoals of hundreds of individuals."

Tom Horton, PhD student at the University of Exeter said; "With these tags we can now understand the species in greater depth. The tags on five fish will collect data for a year when they will detach automatically, two further tags will remain on the fish for a two-year period."

Deputy John Young, Environment Minister said, "This project is an example of how we can use technology to further understand our waters. We are grateful to the expert marine scientists who have been lending their considerable expertise to help establish a tagging programme to satellite track bluefin tuna in Jersey waters. The data will be useful in the future to help inform marine policies and the way we manage our waters sustainably.

"This work serves to remind us that this magnificent species is currently protected under the new Wildlife Law and it is prohibited by anyone to land these fish within Jersey territorial waters."

The study is funded by the Government of Jersey through the Climate Emergency Fund.

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