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Behaviour and habitat preferences of bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) and their influence on longline fishery catches in the western Coral Sea

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Abstract:

Data on the depth and temperature preferences of bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) derived from archival tags were integrated with data on the spatial and temporal distribution of catches from an eastern Australian longline fishery to investigate the relationship between bigeye tuna behaviour and the fishery. Tagged individuals demonstrated variability in depth and water temperature preferences on diurnal, lunar, and seasonal scales. Deeper, cooler waters were frequented during the day, and shallower, warmer waters were frequented at night, with nighttime preferences often deeper around the full moon, although this was not consistent between individuals or temporally within individuals. Marked individual variability in depth and water temperature preferences suggest bigeye tuna are flexible in foraging strategies utilized, thereby allowing individuals to maximize their ability to successfully forage in a patchy environment. Catches of bigeye tuna corresponded with the spatial and temporal overlap of bigeye tuna distributions within the fishery on similar scales, suggesting clear influence of bigeye tuna behaviour on the behaviour of the fishery and catches. However, variability in these relationships suggests that the factors influencing the relative catchability of bigeye tuna are complex, and there are likely to be a range of additional environmental, behavioural, and operational factors that influence bigeye tuna catchability.

Afin d’étudier la relation entre le comportement et la pêche commerciale chez le thon ventru (Thunnus obesus), nous avons intégré des données sur les préférences de profondeur et de température des thons provenant d’étiquettes enregistreuses avec des informations sur la répartition spatiale et temporelle des captures dans une pêche commerciale à la palangre dans l’est de l’Australie. Les individus marqués montrent une variabilité de leurs préférences de profondeur et de température de l’eau sur des échelles diurnes, lunaires et saisonnières. Ils fréquentent les eaux plus profondes et plus fraîches durant le jour et les eaux moins profondes et plus chaudes durant la nuit, avec souvent des préférences pour les eaux plus profondes la nuit au moment de la pleine lune, bien que ce comportement ne soit cohérent ni chez les différents individus, ni dans le temps chez un même individu. La variabilité individuelle importante dans les préférences de profondeur et de température de l’eau laisse croire que les stratégies de recherche de nourriture des thons ventrus sont flexibles, ce qui permet aux individus de maximiser leur capacité à chercher leur nourriture dans les environnements parcellaires. Les captures de thons ventrus correspondent au recouvrement des répartitions des thons dans les sites de pêche sur les mêmes échelles, ce qui indique qu’il y a une nette influence du comportement des thons ventrus sur le déroulement de la pêche et les captures. Cependant, la variabilité de ces relations indique que les facteurs qui influencent la capturabilité des thons sont complexes et qu’il y a vraisemblablement une gamme de facteurs additionnels environnementaux, comportementaux et opérationnels qui influencent la capturabilité des thons ventrus.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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