Scientia Marina, Vol 77, No 3 (2013)

The effect of Mistral (a strong NW wind) episodes on the occurrence and abundance of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) in the trap fishery of Sardinia (W Mediterranean)

Piero Addis
University of Cagliari, Italy

Marco Secci
University of Cagliari, Italy

Angelo Cau
University of Cagliari, Italy


From April to June Atlantic bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus, migrate along the western Sardinian coastline in a southward direction, where they are intercepted by the trap fishery. Fishermen claim that Mistral episodes facilitate the entry of tuna schools towards the traps, thus increasing capture rates. To test the fishermen’s hypothesis we conducted underwater visual counts of tuna in the trap chambers and analysed these data under the effect of wind. The results indicate a “stair-step” pattern in the abundance of tuna, demonstrating that major increases in abundance are associated with the Mistral. The second analytical approach involved a longer time scale to test whether higher Mistral occurrences corresponded to periods when higher captures were recorded. Using a linear regression model we found a significant correlation (p < 0.01) between catches and the wind speed class ≤ 15 knots. We hypothesize that the wind-driven current may produce favourable conditions for tuna migration and could play a significant role in enabling fish to save energy. It was also noted that the wind speed class > 15 knots seemed to have a negative effect on captures. This pattern may be caused by wind-induced advection of coastal waters generating a physical boundary that may have had a deterrent effect on tuna schools.


Thunnus thynnus; trap fishery; abundance; visual census; wind effect; Western Mediterranean

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