Foundation science and technologies to transform Indo-Pacific tuna assessment and management under climate change

view from above the pacific islands
Project code
AUD 200,000
Research program manager
Prof Ann Fleming
Project leader
Dr Campbell Davies
Commissioned organisation
DEC 2021
JUN 2022
Project status
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In partnership with SPC and other regional collaborators, this project aimed to deliver the fundamental genomic data (high resolution genome maps and calibration of epigenetic ageing models) and the logistic feasibility studies required to apply these methods to the three principal target species of these tropical tuna fisheries: skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna.

The tropical tuna fisheries of the Indo-Pacific Oceans are central to the economic development and food security for Indian, Pacific and SE Asian communities. Millions of small-scale and industrial fishers across the region rely on these fisheries for food security and employment, and the export revenues they generate are a substantial proportion of GDP for many island and coastal states. The current monitoring and assessment methods for these regionally significant fisheries are being challenged by global economic forces, new information on population structure, and the increasingly apparent impacts of climate change on the distribution and connectivity of tuna. Transformational fisheries independent monitoring methods developed by CSIRO for southern bluefin tuna can provide population structure, connectivity and abundance information for stock assessment and management purposes through structured regional sampling programs and regional genetic infrastructure.

Project outcomes

  • Calibrating epigenetic age estimation models for yellowfin, bigeye and, skipjack tuna to allow catch at age information to be estimated from routine tissue sample collection by observers and port sampling.
  • Completing high resolution genome sequencing and “re-sequencing” for yellowfin, bigeye and skipjack tuna to provide the genetic foundation to “map” specific markers for identification of kin, population structure and adaptive loci.
  • Completing tissue sampling and handling experiments to refine Standard Operating Procedures that eliminate/minimise contamination and provide DNA extractions of consistent quality for future epigenetic ageing, close-kin mark recapture and population connectivity from routine large-scale tissue port/observer sampling of tropical tuna fisheries.
  • Reviewing the human resource and infrastructure for routine genetic diagnostics (i.e., DNA extraction and dispatch, PCR facilities) across key Pacific Island countries as part of assessing the logistics and feasibility of large-scale tissue and/or DNA handling protocols.
Map of the Pacific showing Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu
Key partners
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
The Pacific Community (SPC)