When our purse seiner Jai Alai (https://echebastar.com/sobre-nosotros/) leaves port in Seychelles on October 22nd for a 28-day fishing trip in the Indian Ocean, it will have on-board a more equipment that usual. It will carry highly sophisticated fish tags that will be attached by a specialist fishery expert, who will specially embark on the vessel to sample the limited number of silky sharks that are taken as a by-catch in some of the sets of the purse seine targeting skipjack tuna.
There is a twin objective to the work. To provide, firstly, evidence on the mortality rate of silky sharks released from on-board the vessel, and secondly, information on the migratory patterns and behavior of silky shark in the Indian Ocean that may support the identification of potential management measures.
For the former, we will deploy 28 sPAD tags and, for the latter, 6 of the more sophisticated Mini pads.
The project is being managed by AZTI (https://www.azti.es/), the renowned Basque research institute which will collect data for analysis and report with findings, conclusions and recommendations.
The total cost of the project is €120,000. Funding by Echebastar from its own resources has been supplemented by support from the Ocean Stewardship Fund of the MSC (https://www.msc.org/what-we-are-doing/our-collective-impact/ocean-stewardship-fund) and SIOTI (https://seafoodsustainability.org/portfolio/indian-ocean-tropical-tuna/), ISSF and AZTI who have provided additional tags to the project.
Kepa Echevarria commented “When we gained MSC certification for our purse seine skipjack fishery in 2018 we determined to go beyond the requirements of the standard by supporting and promoting better understanding and management of the impact of our fishery on other elements of the ecosystem. The tagging project is an example of our commitment. While our by-catch of silky shark is very small in the context of total fishery related mortality of the species, we recognize that it is a vulnerable species and we must contribute to improved awareness of its nature and characteristics. This study will provide better information on tuna purse seine related mortality and the habitat and migratory patterns of shark that may identify potential management measures should they be needed. I am grateful to the support and advice of MSC, SIOTI, AZTI and ISSF”.