Journal Article

Long-term fluctuations in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna population

Christelle Ravier and Jean-Marc Fromentin

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 58, issue 6, pages 1299-1317
Published in print January 2001 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2001 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/jmsc.2001.1119
Long-term fluctuations in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna population

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Long-term time-series of bluefin tuna catches from ancestral Mediterranean and Atlantic trap fisheries are presented and analysed. The trap is a passive gear, little modified for centuries, that catches bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus during their annual spawning migration. These features, together with preliminary analyses, lead us to suggest that long-term fluctuations in trap catches could reflect those in true abundance if they vary in the same manner all around the western Mediterranean and adjacent Atlantic. To test this hypothesis, we investigated 54 time-series more than 20 years long (the longest ones spanning four centuries) of trap catches along the western Mediterranean coasts of Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, Tunisia, Spain, and Morocco, and the adjacent Atlantic coasts of Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. Trends and cycles were identified using Eigen Vector Filtering and spectral analysis, and the synchrony between short- and long-term fluctuations in trap catches was studied with the modified correlogram of Koenig and Knops. The magnitude of fluctuations in trap catches is large, periods of great abundance being up to seven times bigger than those when abundance was low. More interesting was the occurrence of 100-year-long periodic fluctuations as well as 20-year cycles. These medium- to long-term fluctuations, representing more than 50% of the total variability in the time-series, were synchronous all around the western Mediterranean and adjacent North Atlantic. In contrast, short-term variability was synchronous at a local scale only. It is argued that long-term fluctuations in trap catches could be considered as a proxy for those of true abundance, and a synthetic time-series has been computed to depict them. Biological and ecological processes that could cause such long-term fluctuations are also discussed.

Keywords: periodic fluctuations; Thunnus thynnus; time-series; trap fishery; trend

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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