Alternate Title

Large Pelagic Fishes in the Wider Caribbean and Northwest Atlantic Ocean: Movement Patterns Determined from Conventional and Electronic Tagging

Document Type



Conventional tagging data has documented long distance movements (including trans-Atlantic movements) in blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) and yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) within the Atlantic. Swordfish (Xiphius gladius) have also been shown to move substantial distances, although primarily in a north-south direction. There is, however, a paucity of data for wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri). In the past several years, electronic archival (i.e., data recording) tags have significantly advanced our understanding of the behavior and movement patterns of large pelagic fishes. Data from electronic arcltival tags have generally corroborated conventional tagging data with respect to long distance movements, as well as the daily vertical movement patterns previously obtained through acoustic telemetry. Taken together, it is now possible to define ''habitat envelopes" for pelagic species and to correct nominal catch rates for changes in gear vulnerability due to differences in gear targeting. In general, there is a broad spectrum of vertical movement patterns: blue marlin and yellowfin tuna generally remain within the uniform temperature surface layer (although blue marlin occasionally descend to below 300 m), wahoo have less vertical range and appear to remain above 50 m most of the time, whereas swordfish mirror the vertical movements of the organisms of the deep-scattering layer remaining within about 20–30 m of the surface at night but descending to 700–1100 m during the day. Tagging data demonstrates that many large pelagic fish species move through the waters of other jurisdictions thus requiring a regional and international approach to assessment and management. The primary organization which undertakes this function in the Atlantic Ocean is the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which is responsible for the assessment and management of tunas, swordfish and billfishes.

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