The recent reporting of the recovery of a tagged yellowfin tuna comes as a surprise to fisheries biologists.
The tag, sent from the National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries in Shizuoka, Japan, was just received by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Marine Resources Division.
The tagged fish measured about 68 inches, weighed approximately 189 pounds, and was captured on May 26, 2010 off the west coast of Africa off Mauritania.
The fish was initially tagged by a volunteer angler participating in the Marine Division's game fish tagging program on April 20, 2001, just south of Cat Island in the Bahamas. At the time of tagging, the juvenile yellowfin was just shy of 15 pounds.
This is the first recapture of a yellowfin tuna in the history of the program, which began in 1974.
"What makes this recovery exciting," said Robert Wiggers, a DNR fisheries biologist who administers the tagging program, "is that 151 yellowfin have been tagged and released by volunteers, but none have been recovered until now.
This fish was at large for nine years, packed on about 174 pounds and was recaptured close to 4,000 miles from where it was initially tagged."
As evident from this tag recovery, Atlantic yellowfin tuna are a highly migratory species and thus are a target species for both domestic and international fisheries. This fact should be of interest to recreational anglers when considering the impacts on the overall population of such fisheries.