Electronic Tagging Data Supporting Flexible Spatial Management in an Australian Longline Fishery

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Despite widespread claims for the importance of electronic tagging and the resulting data for improved management of fished species, there are few examples where this has occurred. In this contribution we describe how pop-up satellite archival tagging data have been incorporated into a habitat prediction model to support spatial management in an Australian longline fishery, specifically through reduction of unwanted bycatch of a quota-managed species, southern bluefin tuna (SBT, Thunnus maccoyii). This model, and its practical application, has evolved over time (2002-present), due to the successful cooperation between scientists, fishery managers and stakeholders. To illustrate this example of successful use of tag data in management, we review the appropriate biology of SBT and its’ interaction with the fishery, the management challenge that tagging and the habitat model helped resolve, and how this approach has been implemented. Discussion of the management costs associated with this management system shows that fine-scale spatial management is a suitable approach for this bycatch issue. We conclude with some general lessons for the application of flexible spatial management approaches, based on management and science constraints.