ICCAT Atlantic wide research programme for Bluefin Tuna (GBYP)
The Atlantic-wide research programme for bluefin tuna was officially adopted by the ICCAT Commission in 2008. The SCRS, in 2009 identified the priorities of the Research Plan as follows:
1. Improve basic data collection through data mining (including information from traps, observers, and VMS), developing methods to estimate sizes of fish caged, elaborating accurate CPUE indices for Mediterranean purse seine fleets, development of fisheries-independent information surveys and implementing a large scale scientific conventional tagging programme;
2. Improve understanding of key biological and ecological processes through electronic tagging experiments to determine habitat and migration routes, broad scale biological sampling of live fish and dead fish landed (e.g. gonads, liver, otoliths, spines, etc.), histological analyses to determine bluefin tuna reproductive state, biological and genetics analyses to investigate mixing and population structure; and ecological processes, including predator-prey relationships;
3. Improve assessment models and provision of scientific advice on stock status through improved modelling of key biological processes (including growth and stock-recruitment), further developing stock assessment models including mixing among areas, and developing and use of biologically realistic operating models for more rigorous management option testing.
During the Commission Meeting in 2009, a number of Contracting Parties expressed a willingness to make extra-budgetary contributions to such a programme with a view towards initiation of activities in 2009 related to different priorities: programme coordination, data mining, aerial surveys and tagging design studies; with additional research activities to be undertaken in the following years.
The provision to accept additional contributions from various entities and private institutions or companies was also agreed. In the same document, it was recommended to form a Steering Committee comprised by the SCRS Chair, the ICCAT Executive Secretary or his/her Assistant, bluefin tuna rapporteurs, and an outside expert with substantial experience in similar research undertakings for other tuna RFMOs, to guide and refine the Programme as necessary.
GBYP (Grand Bluefin Tuna Year Programme) was adopted as official acronym of the research, which was initiated at the end of March 2010. It was divided in annual Phases, sometimes covering parts of following years.