Wednesday, May 22, 2013

TAG at the ICCAT SCRS Intersessional Meeting in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Last week I joined the United States Delegation and a group of international researchers, including TAG Researcher, Dr. Andre Boustany, and former TAG Director, Shana Miller, at an intersessional meeting for the International Committee for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna’s (ICCAT), Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS).  The focus of the meeting was to review and discuss bluefin tuna biological parameters for stock assessment purposes. The meeting was held from May 7-13, 2013 at the Oceanographic Center of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography in Canary Islands. 

Participants from the ICCAT Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS) at the 2013 intersessional meeting on Bluefin Tuna Biological Parameters in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.  
Among other objectives, we were tasked with assessing biological information available for the 2015 Atlantic bluefin assessment, reviewing basic biological assumptions and relationships, evaluating the reliability of existing and historical information about bluefin biology and fisheries, and discussing opportunities for incorporating relevant data into ICCAT databases.  We were divided into thematic working groups to discuss bluefin size conversions (e.g. length to weight, curved fork-length to fork-length), age conversions (e.g. growth curve, aging), reproduction (e.g. sex ratio, maturity, fecundity and spawning), natural mortality, and population structure and stock mixing (e.g. genetics, tagging, stock-age key tables).

TAG team and alumni at Volcan El Teide (3718 m) in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.  From left to right: TAG Scientist Dr. Andre Boustany, former TAG Director Shana Miller, and TAG Director Dr. George Shillinger 
The first two days of the meeting involved a series of thematic presentations and discussions intended to provide an update about existing knowledge regarding Atlantic bluefin biological and fisheries research.    The remainder of the meeting was devoted to working group breakout sessions and plenary discussions, during which working groups drafted and presented content for inclusion within a report that will be presented at the ICCAT Bluefin Stock Assessment Methods meeting in Boston during July 2013.  The results from the meeting will also be used to inform the SCRS position at the meeting of the “Working Group of Fisheries Managers and Scientists in support of the Western Bluefin Tuna Stock Assessment” to be held in Montreal, Canada, June 26 to 28, 2013.

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