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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 534:221-234 (2015)  -  DOI:

Aerial surveys to monitor bluefin tuna abundance and track efficiency of management measures

Robert Klaus Bauer, Sylvain Bonhommeau, Blandine Brisset, Jean-Marc Fromentin*

IFREMER, UMR Marbec, Avenue Jean Monnet, CS 30171, 34203 Sète Cedex, France
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Conservation and management measures for exploited fish species rely on our ability to monitor variations in population abundance. In the case of the eastern stock of Atlantic bluefin tuna (ABFT), recent changes in management policies have strongly affected the reliability of fishery-dependent indicators due to drastic changes in fishing season/area, fisheries selectivity and strategy. However, fishery-independent indices of abundance are rare for large pelagic fish, and obtaining them is often costly and labor intensive. Here, we show that scientific aerial surveys are an appropriate tool for monitoring juvenile bluefin tuna abundance in the Mediterranean. We present an abundance index based on 62 aerial surveys conducted since 2000, using 2 statistical approaches to deal with the sampling strategy: line and strip transects. Both approaches showed a significant increase in juvenile ABFT abundance in recent years, resulting from the recovery plan established in 2007. Nonetheless, the estimates from the line transect method appear to be more robust and stable. This study provides essential information for fisheries management. Expanding the spatial coverage to other nursery grounds would further increase the reliability and representativeness of this index.

KEY WORDS: Thunnus thynnus · Index of abundance · Fishery-independent · Gulf of Lions · Mediterranean Sea · Strip transect · Distance sampling

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Cite this article as: Bauer RK, Bonhommeau S, Brisset B, Fromentin JM (2015) Aerial surveys to monitor bluefin tuna abundance and track efficiency of management measures. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 534:221-234.

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