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Early Life History (ELH) and Rearing Technology Development (RTD) Team
Spawning Ecology Team
Nutritional Requirement and Feed Development Team
Research issues
Project name

Spawning Ecology of the Reproductive Biology and Early Life History of Two Tuna Species (Yellowfin tuna and Pacific bluefin tuna) for the Sustainable Use of These Resources


Country of focus
Republic of Panama


Date signed (project agreement)
January 28, 2011


Project site
Pedasí, Los Santos Province


Collaboration period
April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2016 (total 5 years)


Laboratory
IATTC Achotines Laboratory
Research institutions in focus country: Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP), Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission Achotines Laboratory: IATTC Achotines Laboratory (*)


*Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission
A regional fishery management institution founded in 1950 with the aim of promoting the perseveration and management of bonito and tuna resources in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Its functions include investigative research and preservation control measures (including penalties) for its target species (bonito, yellowfin tuna, etc). For yellowfin tuna, IATTC has implemented total catch regulations and penalties covering the eastern Pacific Ocean. In July 2011, the commission had 20 member countries – including Japan and Panama – with a further two countries serving as non-member partners.


Background
Tuna fishing is conducted widely across the Pacific region, and represents an important industry for Latin American countries such as Panama. For Panama in particular, the export of more than 45,000 tons of frozen and fresh tuna per year (as of 2008) to the United States and Europe serves as a valuable source of foreign income.

However, an increase in overfishing in recent years has led to much concern about a decrease in natural tuna resources. The two varieties of tuna considered for investigation in this project are both highly migratory species that are distributed widely across the Pacific Ocean, and represent common, pan-regional resources used by many different coastal nations. A frequent but undesirable consequence of such utilization of common resources is significant depletion, brought about by disorganized fishing activity – the so-called ‘tragedy of the commons’. As such, it is very important that a more effective framework for the management of these resources is introduced.

As such, Panama has submitted a request to Japan for scientific and technological collaboration under this program. The aim of the project will be to promote research and technology development to identify parent spawning ecology and early life history conditions necessary for the formulation of sustainable resource management policies for the resources of these two varieties of tuna (yellowfin tuna and Pacific bluefin tuna) within Achotines Laboratory in Los Santos Province, Panama, and the surrounding seas.



Objectives
(1) Primary objective:
To strengthen the resources management of these two varieties of tuna within the seas surrounding Panama and the other seas under the jurisdiction of IATTC.

(2) Project objectives:
To accumulate and integrate biological scientific knowledge (spawning ecology and early life history) required for the sustainable usage of resources of these two varieties of tuna.

(3) Results (output):
Result 1 : The spawning characteristics of yellowfin tuna and Pacific bluefin tuna shall be interpreted.
Result 2 : Methods to detect and analyze the maternal line (*2) in yellowfin tuna, using the mitochondrial D-loop region (*1), shall be developed.
Result 3 : Determining factors for survival in the early life histories of yellowfin tuna and Pacific bluefin tuna shall be specified.
Result 4 : Seedling production technologies shall be developed to contribute to an improvement in survival rate during the early life histories of yellowfin tuna.

(*1) Mitochondrial D-loop region
The cells of living organisms contain small organs called mitochondria that create energy. Mitochondria have different DNA to that contained within the cell nucleus, which is known as mitochondrial DNA. This mitochondrial DNA contains both a DNA region that passes on genes, and a DNA region that does not pass on genes and thus does not change the properties of the organism. The mitochondrial D-loop region refers to this latter region, which neither passes on genes nor changes the properties of the organism.

(*2) Maternal line
Descendant line(s) stemming from the same mother

(4) Activities
1-1 : Conduct investigations of times of day and times of year for yellowfin tuna spawning.
1-2 : Investigate the impact of environmental conditions on yellowfin tuna spawning.
1-3 : Investigate the impact of nutritional status on yellowfin tuna spawning.
1-4 : Develop methods for the simple and comprehensive investigation of physiological states in parents, juveniles, and larvae for both yellowfin tuna and Pacific bluefin tuna. (Libraries and microarrays will be developed for organ cDNA, including cDNA sexual glands.)

2-1 : Analyze mitochondrial D-loop region as a means of determining maternal line in yellowfin tuna.
2-2 : Verify methods to investigate maternal line by analyzing a fixed number sample of natural yellowfin tuna.

3-1 : Conduct investigation of early life histories of yellowfin tuna and Pacific bluefin tuna, as well as comparative research into the influence of physical and chemical factors during this stage.
3-2 : Conduct comparative research into the visual sensitivity of yellowfin tuna and Pacific bluefin tuna, and of the response to light information shown by juveniles and larvae of each variety.
3-3 : Conduct comparative research into the feeding ecology, behavior, activity, and growth and survival of yellowfin tuna and Pacific bluefin tuna during their early life histories.
3-4 : Conduct comparative research into the nutritional value of artificial and natural feeds for yellowfin tuna and Pacific bluefin tuna.

4-1 : Develop methods for the genetic analysis and genetic management of yellowfin tuna.
4-2 : Gather information to be used for health management in yellowfin tuna.
4-3 : Develop catching and transportation methods for yellowfin tuna parent candidates.
4-4 : Develop necessary incubation technologies and preserve cultivation technologies for yellowfin tuna seedling production.
4-5 : Investigate the development of yellowfin tuna organs and their functionality; as well as the appropriate qualities and quantities of feed to be administered.



Investment
(1) Investment from Japanese party
A. Dispatch of specialists
a) Operational supervision – 1 person
b) Short-term specialists
•Chief advisor/genetic and early life history research
•Reproduction biology (spawning ecology)
•Nutrition
•Early life history research
•Tuna incubation site operation
•Tuna preserve cultivation operation, etc

B. Supply of materials
Laboratory analysis equipment, materials and equipment for on-land culturing, materials and equipment for marine culturing, feed, etc.

C. Receipt of trainees
Training in research methods for spawning ecology and early life history of Pacific bluefin tuna to be conducted mainly at Kinki University testing sites.

(2) Partner country investment
(2)-1 : Necessary costs incurred in promoting this project within Panama – including counterpart personnel costs at Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP), and local costs for research feed and such like.
(2)-2 : Necessary costs incurred in promoting this project within Panama – including counterpart personnel costs at IATTC, maintenance and operation costs for the Achotines Laboratory and material and equipment, and local costs for research feed and such like.

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