By John LoGioco
“Tuna Tagging for All” is really the theme for the Atlantic Tuna Project as the mission of the program is to allow an easy and free way for any private or charter boat to begin tagging Atlantic tunas such as bluefin, yellowfin, bigeye and longfin tunas. The tags and tag cards are coordinated through the South East Fisheries Center in Miami and are sent free of charge to prospective taggers.
“Share Your Tagging Stories” – At the heart of the program is the web sitewww.savethebluefin.com. Think of it as a social network for people who like tuna fishing. All member charter and private boats get their own free page and upload photos, stories and videos from their tagging adventures. It’s also the main source of education on various topics such as educating newcomers on how to tag safely, how to make a tag stick from a broom handle, how to use a tailer and more. To date there are about 400 members on the site with another 1500 following the program on Twitter and Facebook.
Last year the Atlantic Tuna Project network of boats from North Carolina to Maine tagged hundreds of tuna. Not only did we tag a lot of bluefin but we also tagged a lot of yellowfin, thanks in part mostly to the Canyon Runner’s efforts in New Jersey. It’s important to view all Atlantic tuna as part of the eco-system, as well as the forage that support the tunas’ migrations, so having tagging data on all the species is most helpful and needed.
For charter boats, there is an incentive program where anglers who agree to tag their tuna are eligible to receive a free “tagging member” care package that contains items from the program’s sponsors, including HOGY Lures. Last year anglers on participating charter boats received items from Guy Harvey, HOGY, AFTCO, West Marine, Pure Fishing and more. This part of the program was a great success last year as many of the leading charter boats in New Jersey had fun with the program.
Over the winter, we were pretty busy on the fishery management front, as information and data collected in the program proved to be useful for fighting threatening measures such as the Endangered Species Listing petition filed by the Center For Biological Diversity. In fact, HOGY email newsletter recipients that fish for tuna are welcome to download a fascinating report that details the recreational catch for bluefin fishermen from 2007 to 2010. You can access the report from the home page of www.savethebluefin.com. The drama never ends with tuna fishery management as just this week NMFS shocked the markets with their proposal to reduce the recreational quota significantly to account for dead bluefin that long liners are forced to throw over the side. I know, sounds crazy, and it is. So that’s the next battleground.
Just like you, we love tuna, and want to see them around for the next generation to enjoy, appreciate and conserve. Thanks to sponsors like Mike Hogan and HOGY Lures, the Atlantic Tuna Project is growing and looking forward to another great season in 2011. If you fish for tuna, and if you use HOGY’s you will probably catch a bunch, I invite you to join the Atlantic Tuna Project and get involved in tagging some of the fish you catch. It’s fun, rewarding and very much needed.