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Rouyer, T., Bonhommeau, S., Giordano, N., Ellul, S., Ellul, G., Deguara, S., et al. (2019). Tagging Atlantic bluefin tuna from a farming cage: An attempt to reduce handling times for large scale deployments. Fisheries Research, 211, 27–31.
Résumé: Our knowledge on the biology and ecology of marine species have improved greatly through the use of archival tags by enabling the collection on information from individual in the wild. This is specifically true for large pelagic species such as the Atlantic Bluefin tuna (ABFT, Thunnus thynnus) where, for the first time, it has been possible to confirm through fisheries-independent data, migration patterns, reproductive and feeding behaviours and habitat use. However, large-scale tagging experiments that would enable researchers to tackle group behaviour are difficult to set up. On the one hand, the impact of the actual tagging operation should be as minimal as possible to avoid any change in behaviour of the fish which could influence tag data analyses. On the other hand, large scale tagging experiments require handling a large number of animals in a relatively short period of time. In the present manuscript, a methodology for tagging several large ABFT with satellite tags was tested with ABFT caught from a cage of a Maltese farm. The total time of the operation, from the moment fish were caught by handline to release back to the sea lasted an average of 10 min for the 3 fish tagged. The handling of the fish on the deck lasted less than 2 min. This methodology proved successful at tagging several large (158–182 cm) fishes in a very short time, while ensuring the best conditions for the fish during tagging and subsequent release. This procedure requires substantial logistical preparation and an experienced crew team but, by reducing the time required for the operation, opens up the possibility of large scale tagging activities of large fish held in cages or caught by purse seiners.