Fishing activity of tuna purse seiners estimated from vessel monitoring system (VMS) data

Bez, Nicolas; Walker, Emily; Gaertner, Daniel; Rivoirard, Jacques; Gaspar, Philippe; Walters, Carl
November 2011
Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences;Nov2011, Vol. 68 Issue 11, p1998
Academic Journal
In the lack of fishery-independent information, catch per unit of effort (CPUE) is the conventional abundance index. In the case of the tropical tuna purse seine fisheries, a critical difficulty lies in the definition of an effective fishing effort, because fishermen use two different fishing modes (free swimming schools versus schools under fish aggregating devices) alternatively during the same trip. In this study, vessel monitoring system (VMS) data were used in an operational level to study and quantify the spatial dynamic of the tropical tuna purse seine fishing activity. A Bayesian state-space model allowed classifying VMS steps into three activities (fishing, tracking, and cruising), which were characterized by a small set of complementary spatial indicators. The dominant activity (49%) was clearly the tracking of tuna schools within areas of aggregations. A hierarchical spatial organization of the three fishing activities was also evidenced. Fishing strategies described by the triplets of proportions of time devoted to each activity and interpreted as compositional data were modelled by the sum of a vessel effect and a seasonal effect.


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