Thursday, 10 March 2011 10:32 AM

New Software to Support Management of the World's Largest Tuna Fisheries

Better informed fishery managers make better management decisions. This is the idea behind the software package TUMAS (TUna MAnagement Simulator), which lets anybody take control of the world's largest tuna fisheries - those of the western and central Pacific Ocean.

The software was developed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). Project leader Dr Simon Hoyle explains, 'It allows users to take the same science and models used by SPC to assess the tuna stocks, and see what could happen in future by changing the management to increase or decrease the catch and effort for different fisheries.'

'Gaming' a range of management strategies should help those with a stake in the fishery to understand the stock assessments better, to communicate, and to negotiate with each other.

After the user has defined a fishery management plan, the software predicts how this management would affect the health of the resources, as well as the performance of the fisheries in terms of both catches and catch rates.

Fabrice Bouyé, the lead software developer on the project, noted that an important feature of TUMAS is that the user can save the results of a management scenario and then use these values for further analysis, such as bioeconomic modelling.

TUMAS was developed by scientists from SPC's Oceanic Fisheries Programme to support Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) tuna fishery management and SPC members, and was funded through a grant from the Pelagic Fisheries Research Program (PFRP) in Hawaii.

With funding for 12 more months of work, the developers will extend TUMAS to allow evaluation of time/area closures, and extend the outputs from TUMAS to include information on the size of the fish, a factor known to affect the value of the catch.

"This is a very timely development given that the WCPFC needs to come up with a new management measure for tropical tunas," said Professor Glenn Hurry, Executive Director of the WCPFC.

TUMAS is now available as a free download from http://www.tumas-project.org/