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Overfishing of Southern Bluefin Tuna

Project Overview

Southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyyii) is a very large species of tuna that inhabits the cold temperate waters of the southern Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.  It is estimated that females mature and are able to spawn at approximately 1.5 meters in length, which corresponds with an age of 8 years.  Japan, Australia, and New Zealand catch the majority of southern bluefin tuna.  The fishing methods used include longline fishing and purse seining.  Both methods have impacts on wildlife, including seabirds, sharks, other fish, turtles and marine mammals.  Historically, it has been considered a delicacy and has been fished primarily for use in the raw-fish market of Japan as sashimi.  The southern bluefin tuna is currently listed as critically endangered, meaning that it is at extremely high risk of become extinct in the immediate future.   The purpose of this project is to explore the characteristics and life history of the southern bluefin tuna and examine the effects of fishing practices on the bluefin tuna population and other ecologically related speciesFirst, students will explore several  websites to learn about the ecology and fishing practices of the southern bluefin tuna.  Then, they will then collect and analyze historical data on the annual catch of southern bluefin tuna over the past five decades.  In addition, students will answer questions pertaining to the southern bluefin tuna and the effects of fishing on the southern bluefin tuna population and other ecologically related species.  The students will then discuss their findings and analyses.