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
  • Marco Secci University of Cagliari
  • Angelo Cau University of Cagliari



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


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.


Download data is not yet available.


Addis P., Dean J.M., Pesci P., Locci I., Cannas R., Corrias S., Cau A. 2008. Effects of local scale perturbations in the Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus L.) trap fishery of Sardinia (W. Mediterranean). Fish. Res. 92: 242-254.

Addis P., Secci M., Locci I., Cau A., Sabatini A. 2012. Analysis of Atlantic bluefin tuna catches from the last Tonnara in the Mediterranean Sea: 1993-2010. Fish. Res. 127-128: 133-141.

Angotzi F. 1901. L'industria delle tonnare in Sardegna. Pongetti Editore, Bologna 116 pp.

Block B.A., Teo S.L.H., Walli A. 2005. Electronic tagging and population structure of Atlantic bluefin tuna. Nature 434: 1121-1127 PMid:15858572

Botsford L., Lawrence C.A., Dever E.P., Hastings A., Largier J. 2003. Wind strength and biological productivity in upwelling systems: an idealized study. Fish. Oceanogr. 12(4): 245-259.

Brito G. 1943. Pesca do Atum. Bol. Pesca 1(2): 2-82.

Brodersen J., Nilsson P.A., Ammitzbøll J., Hansson L.A., Skov C., Brönmark C. 2008. Optimal swimming speed in head currents and effects on distance movement of winter-migrating fish. PLoS ONE 3(5): e2156. PMid:18478053 PMCid:PMC2359855

Carlsson J., McDowell J.R., Díaz-Jaimes P., Carlsson J.E.L., Boles S.B., Gold J.R., Graves J.E. 2004. Microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA analyses of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus thynnus) population structure in the Mediterranean Sea. Mol. Ecol. 13: 3345-3356. PMid:15487994

Cartamil D.P., Lowe C.G. 2004. Diel movement patterns of ocean sunfish Mola mola off southern California. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 266: 245-253.

Chapman E.W., Jorgensen C., Lutcavage M.E. 2011. Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus): a state-dependent energy allocation model for growth, maturation, and reproductive investment. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 68: 1934-1951.

De Buen F. 1925. Biologia del atún (Orcynus thynnus L.). Result. de las camp. real. por acuerd. intern. 1. Comm. Int. Mer Médit., Madrid, 118 pp.

De Metrio G., Arnold G.P., de la Serna J.M., Block B.A., Megalofonou P., Lutcavage M., Oray I., Deflorio M. 2005. Movements of bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus L.) tagged in the Mediterranean Sea with pop-up satellite tags. Collect. Vol. Sci. Pap. ICCAT 58:1337-1340.

Donda F., Gordini E., Rebesco M., Pascucci V., Mosetti R.G., Lazzari P., Fontolan M. 2008. Shallow water sea-floor morphologies around Asinara Island (NW Sardinia, Italy). Cont. Shelf. Res. 28: 2550-2564.

Doumenge F. 1998. L'histoire des peches thonieres. Proceedings of the ICCAT tuna symposium. Collect. Vol. Sci. Pap. ICCAT Vol. L (2): 753-803.

Fromentin J.M., Fonteneau A., Farrugio H. 2000. Biological key reference points and natural long-term fluctuations: the case of the Atlantic bluefin tuna. Collect. Vol. Sci. Pap. ICCAT, 51: 2072-2084.

Grassi B. 1913. Conflitto tra le tonnare Porto Paglia e Portoscuso contro la Società Anonima Malfidano. Ed. Corsi e Ciarlo, Genova.

Korsmeyer K.E., Dewar H. 2001. Tuna metabolism and energetics. In: Block B.A., Stevens E.D. (eds.), Tuna. Physiology, Ecology, and Evolution. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, pp. 35-78.

ICCAT, 2012. ICCAT-GBYP Symposium on trap fisheries for bluefin tuna. Collect. Vol. Sci. Pap. ICCAT, 398 pp.

Lemos R.T., Gomes J.F. 2004. Do local environmental factors induce daily and yearly variability in bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus L.) trap catches? Ecol. Model. 177(1-2): 143-156.

Lozano Cabo F. 1958. Los Escómbridos de las aguas Espa-olas y Marroquíes y su pesca. Publ. Inst. Esp. Oceanogr. 25: 1-254.

McCullagh P., Nelder J.A. 1989. Generalized linear models. Second Edition. Chapman & Hall, University Press, Cambridge, 511 pp. PMCid:PMC1385319

Mather F.J., Mason Jr J.M., Jones A.C. 1995. Historical document: Life history and fisheries of Atlantic bluefin tuna. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC-370.

Mazzarelli G. 1917. Conflitto fra tonnare e miniere in Sardegna. Rivista di pesca e Idrobiologia Anno XI (XVIII) 4: 139-163.

Medina A., Abascal F.J., Megina C., Garcia A. 2002. Stereological assessment of the reproductive status of female Atlantic northern bluefin tuna during migration to Mediterranean spawning grounds through the Strait of Gibraltar. J. Fish. Biol. 60: 203-217.

Medina A., Cort J.L., Aranda G., Varela J.L., Aragon L., Abascal F. 2011. Summary of bluefin tuna tagging activities carried out between 2009 and 2010 in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. Collect. Vol. Sci. Pap. ICCAT 66(2): 874-882.

Millot C. 1999. Circulation in the Western Mediterranean sea. J. Mar. Syst. 20: 423-442.

Munday B.L., Hallegraeff G.M. 1997. Mass mortality of captive, southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) in April 1996 in Boston Bay, South Australia: a complex diagnostic problem. In: International Symposium on Diseases in Marine Aquaculture, Hiroshima, Japan

Neuparth A.E. 1923. Subsídios para o estudo dos peixes imigrantes nas nossas costas de Portugal. A Pesca Marìtima 1: 24-26.

Pinardi N., Masetti E. 2000. Variability of the large scale general circulation of the Mediterranean Sea from observations and modelling: a review. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 158: 153-173.

Pope E.C., Hays G.G., Thys T.M., Doyle T.K., Sims N., Queroz N., Hobson V.J., Kubicek L., Houghton J.D.R. 2010. The biology and ecology of the ocean sunfish Mola mola: a review of current knowledge and future research perspectives. Rev. Fish. Biol. Fish. 20: 471-487.

Ravier C., Fromentin J.M. 2004. Are the long-term fluctuations in Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) population related to environmental changes? Fish. Oceanogr. 13: 145-160.

Ribotti A., Puillat I., Sorgente R., Natale S. 2004. Mesoscale circulation in the surface layer off the southern and western Sardinia island in 2000. Chem. Ecol. 20: 345-363.

Riccioni G., Landi M., Ferrara G., Milano I., Cariani A., Zane L., Sella M., Barbujani G., Tinti F. 2010. Spatio-temporal population structuring and genetic diversity retention in depleted Atlantic bluefin tuna of the Mediterranean Sea. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107: 2102-2107. PMid:20080643 PMCid:PMC2836650

Robinson A.R., Leslie W.G., Theocharis A., Lascaratos A. 2001. Mediterranean Sea circulation. In: Thorpe S.A., Turekian K.K. (eds), Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences. Academic Press, New York, pp 1689-1706.

Rodriguez-Roda J. 1964. Biologia del Atun, Thunnus thynnus (L.), de la costa sudatlantica de España. Inv. Pesq. 25: 33-146.

Rooker J.R., Secor D.H., De Metrio G., Schloesser R., Block B.A., Neilson J.D. 2008. Natal homing and connectivity in Atlantic bluefin tuna populations. Science 322: 742-744. PMid:18832611

Rykaczewski R., Chekley M. 2008. Influence of ocean winds on the pelagic ecosystem in upwelling regions. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105: 1965-1970. PMid:18250305 PMCid:PMC2538866

Santos L.F.R. 1989. A pesca do atum no Algarve. Publicações do Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, Faro, 91 pp.

Sarà R. 1980. La pêche du thon rouge au thonaire en Méditerranée. Collect. Vol. Sci. Pap. ICCAT, 11: 238-254.

Schneider J., Fernandez V., Hernandez-Garcia F. 2005. Leaking method approach to surface transport in the Mediterranean Sea from a numerical ocean model. J. Mar. Syst. 57: 111-126.

Sella M. 1929. Migrazioni e habitat del tonno (Thunnus thynnus L.) studiati col metodo degli ami, con osservazioni su l'accrescimento, sul regime delle tonnare ecc. Mem. R. Com. Talassograf. Ital. 156: 511-42.

Sloman K.A., Wilson R.W., Balshine S. 2006. Behaviour and Physiology of Fish. Elsevier Academic Press, San Diego. PMCid:PMC1479780

Sorgente R., Drago A.F., Ribotti A. 2003. Seasonal variability in the central Mediterranean Sea circulation. Ann. Geophys. 21: 299-322.

Storai T., Zinzula L., Repetto S., Zuffa M., Morgan A., Mandelman J. 2011. Bycatch of large elasmobranchs in the traditional tuna traps (tonnare) of Sardinia from 1990 to 2009. Fish. Res. 109: 74-79.

Tudela S., Sainz Trápaga S., Cerme-o P., Hidas E., Graupera E., Quílez-Badia G. 2011. Bluefin tuna migratory behavior in the western and central Mediterranean Sea revealed by electronic tags. Collect. Vol. Sci. Pap. ICCAT 66(3): 1157-1169.




How to Cite

Addis P, Secci M, Cau A. 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). scimar [Internet]. 2013Sep.30 [cited 2023Oct.4];77(3):419-27. Available from:




Most read articles by the same author(s)