16 May 2012
Bluefin tuna fishing season: JRC habitat maps help compliance control
The 2012 bluefin tuna fishing season is open in the Mediterranean and the Eastern Atlantic from 16 May to 14 June. By providing daily maps of the bluefin tuna preferred habitat, the JRC helps ensuring that the fishing fleet fully respects the rules during the main fishing season.
This year the European Commission, in close collaboration with the Member States concerned, has put in place a strict control and inspection programme to monitor all aspects of the bluefin tuna fishery and enforce the rules. It involves a significant deployment of inspectors, patrol vessels and aircrafts and is coordinated by the Commission, the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) and the Member States concerned (Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Malta, Cyprus). The JRC supports the joint control of the 2012 bluefin tuna fisheries campaign by sending daily maps of preferred habitats in near real time to EFCA and to two National Control Authorities.
The habitat modelling approach of marine species developed at JRC's Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen (IPSC) correlates the presence of bluefin tuna with satellite-derived environmental data. The two main fish behaviours are retraced, i.e. feeding and spawning, and especially the latter which is targeted by fishermen. Since tuna is not uniformly distributed in its habitat, the maps only provide a higher probability of presence. While the control authorities are able to display the position of fishing vessels in real time, the overlay of the habitat map could contribute to better interpret vessel movements (notably towards the spawning grounds) and is therefore a supplementary decision tool for identifying the vessels to be controlled.