AFRF and the NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center have cooperated on research since 1971 and research efforts have followed changes in the Pacific fishery. In the 1970s the fishery was expanding and the international fishery catch was increasing. At that time AFRF research focused on identifying offshore areas of albacore abundance to expand U.S. participation in the fishery. The SWFSC has a detailed page online explaining the tagging program.

John Chliders - SWFSC-NOAAIMG_0503

AFRF initially proposed a tagging program to realize the objective of understanding North Pacific albacore movements well enough to be able to use them effectively in stock assessment and for development of management guidelines. In 2001 AFRF contributed $60,000 to a joint AFRF/NMFS feasibility study to evaluate the potential for tagging albacore tuna. The trial program was conducted aboard a pole-and-line (bait) boat between September and November off central and southern California. This trial study showed that tags can be successfully implanted in albacore tuna, and it indicated the feasibility of a cooperative government/industry program for future tagging.

See video of our tagging program here.

Archival Tag Recovery:  American Fishermen’s Research Foundation has deployed over 1,000 tags since 2001. The reward for catching and returning the whole fish is $500. If you find one in your albacore catch, please separate the tagged fish from the other fish and contact SWFSC, your buyer, or AFRF — or call 858-546-7000.

photos of tags

Photos of tags

If you land a fish with a tag, FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY to return the tagged fish without damaging it and claim your financial reward.

tag instructions

tag instructions

tag instructions Albacore tuna is important to the economy of coastal communities in Washington, Oregon, and California. To protect U.S. fishing interests and to ensure the health and sustainability of this resource, a great deal of research is needed.

Since the 1970s NOAA‘s Southwest Fisheries Science Center has collaborated with the American Fishermen’s Research Foundation (AFRF) on studies of the albacore fisheries in the Pacific. Our archival tagging program contributes to fisheries research on Pacific albacore migrations — and YOU can help FUND this research program. Contact AFRF for more details.

For both national and international management, there is a strong need to identify and document migration routes and the relationship of stocks to harvest regions. Important specific informational needs include interactions between albacore stocks and the Japanese pole-and-line fishery, the U.S. troll fishery, and the various international longline fisheries. The life history of albacore is only partially known, and major life history parameters have been invalidated.

A tagging program using archival tags is one method of obtaining a significant amount of the  distributional and life history information for north Pacific albacore tuna. The primary goals of this project are:

  •  to obtain a tag that has been proven suitable for a species such as albacore
  •  to find a tag that will withstand protracted deployment at sea and collect and store   needed information
  •  to develop methods of implanting tags to provide for the survival of the greatest number of tagged fish
  •  to develop at-sea deployment techniques and to evaluate various programs to ensure maximum recovery of tags

Tag Data Processing Project: AFRF has been working on this cooperative research project with SWFSC tagging albacore since 2001. Recovered tags have produced very interesting data on albacore migration, feeding patterns, depths, and daily movements.

Since 2001 over $1.2 million contributed by the albacore troll and pole industry and NOAA has funded the purchase and deployment of these tags. Continued funding challenges and limited personnel at the SWFSC have slowed efforts to process tag data, compile and publish reports, and convey results to the public and to management and scientific regulatory bodies.

AFRF has realized that a more pro-active approach to processing this data is essential; AFRF will hire staff to process and write reports on the remaining tags not yet analyzed at SWFSC.

This type of project has never been done by anyone, including NOAA.

Those who directly and indirectly depend on albacore health, harvest, and processing contribute financially to this project. We are asking  West Coast associations, commissions, and others to consider contributing to this research.

Staff will provide analytical reports and presentations of data collected through the program.  Working with members of AFRF and scientists at NOAA, this will bring to the project staff experience with both movement data and remote sensing data, to deliver timely first looks at newly recovered tags as well as in-depth analysis. We will advocate for the continued funding of the tagging program through annual program productivity reports to the Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

These services will address the following needs:

•  News & Updates: A prompt “first look” into the tracks and behavior of new recoveries as well as reports on deployment trips.

•  Insights into albacore behavior: Scientific analysis of the tagging data that provides an understanding of albacore diving behavior and migration within the context of dynamic oceanographic conditions.

• Program promotion and funding: Promotion of the importance of the tagging program to the management of the albacore fishery.