OTN Perth Line Helps Australian and Japanese Researchers Study Southern Bluefin Tuna Population Dynamics

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CSIRO Senior Research Scientist Alistair Hobday holds a juvenile southern bluefin tuna tagged and ready for release Photo by Ryo Kawabe, Nagasaki University

Alistair Hobday is a Senior Research Scientist at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Centre for Marine and Atmospheric Research (CMAR) in Hobart, Tasmania.

In collaboration with Ryo Kawabe from Nagasaki University and Tomoyuki Itoh from the National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries, Fisheries Research Agency, in Japan, Alistair is attempting to understand the seasonal movements of juvenile southern bluefin tuna on the south coast of Australia using an array of three cross-shelf acoustic monitoring lines, each consisting of 20 receivers. The knowledge gained will be used to provide better population size estimates for this economically important species. The current population is thought to be at an historically low level as a result of overfishing.

Alistair and Ryo tagged 230 juvenile southern bluefin tuna and released them off Western Australia over the duration of the 2-year study, 2009-2011. In 2010, 23 of the tuna tagged by Alistair were heard on the OTN Perth Line, with more than 800 total detections. In total, some 90 fish have been detected at all the receivers in the study, and more are expected as the tags remain active. The OTN Perth Line, off Western Australia, was OTN’s first international listening curtain and was first deployed in January of 2009.

This research is funded by the Strategic Japanese-Australian Cooperative Program on Marine Science, CSIRO, and the Japan Science and Technology Agency.

Alistair is also a member of the OTN Global Coordination Committee as a regional representative for the East Indian Ocean region. This Committee advises and reports on the planning and coordination among all projects undertaken under the OTN umbrella and assists OTN in ensuring that the science undertaken in countries around the world is consistent with national funding priorities and that the research is funded by various countries.

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Story by Susan Dufault, OTN Headquarters

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