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Study helps assess global status of tuna and billfish stocks
Date:8/15/2011

A global study by an international team including professor John Graves of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science has found that several species of tunas and billfishes are threatened and in need of further protection.

The team's analysispublished in a recent issue of Science magazine's Policy Forumis the first study of global tuna and billfish populations using the methods of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The IUCN Red List is the worldwide standard for assessing the status of species. Red List categories run from "least concern" to "near threatened," "vulnerable," "endangered," "critically endangered," "extinct in the wild," and "extinct." A threatened designation includes the middle three categories.

The studypart of the broader Global Marine Species Assessmentaddresses concerns that the methods currently used to evaluate the status of tuna and billfish stocks are insufficient to sustainably manage the multi-national fisheries for these highly prized and highly priced fishin 2011, a single bluefin tuna sold for almost $400,000.

Stock assessments for tuna and billfish are typically based on catch data collected by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, or RFMOs. Graves has served one of these organizationsthe International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)for the past 16 years, chairing the Advisory Committee to its U.S. Section.

Standardizing and sharing data among RFMOs has proven difficult, thus hindering efforts to understand the overall population status of tuna and billfish species, many of which are distributed globally.

In the current study, a review team of fisheries experts from the U.S., Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Peru, Spain, Switzerland, and Taiwan first compiled a global database of information from fisheries reports and scientific publications. They then analyzed the data using IUCN Red List criteria. Their results showed th
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Contact: David Malmquist
davem@vims.edu
804-684-7011
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Source:Eurekalert

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