PNG Tagging Project Print


When FV Soltai 101 main engine stopped alongside at Noro base on the 6th June 2013, this brought a mix of feelings amongst the boat crew and all the people that have been involved in the tagging adventures since August 2006.

The 2013 cruise (PNG-TP3) tagged 29,920 tuna in PNG waters in two month time and allowed the PNG tagging project to successfully reach its target with a total of 110,501 releases (See cruise track map and table of release summary for the project). But this cruise is also the conclusion of seven years of almost continuous (no cruise in 2010) tuna tagging in the WCPO region using the pole and line boats from the Solomon Islands NFD (National Fisheries Developments) company.

More than 360,000 tuna have been tagged onboard the fishing vessels Soltai 6, Soltai 105 and Soltai 101 and the success of what could be called the “biggest tuna tagging programme” is largely due to the efficiency, professionalism and dedication of these boats, their crew and the company they are working for.


A big thank you to all of you, no doubt this work will contribute to better manage our precious tuna resources…


Time period Operational Area Tagging vessel Releases nb.
PNGTP 2013 Apr - June 2013 Papua New Guinea Soltai 101 29,920
PNGTP 2012 Jan - Mar 2012 Papua New Guinea Soltai 105 39,927
PNGTP 2011
Apr - July 2011 Papua New Guinea Soltai 105 40,655




FV Soltai 105 returned to its base port on the 19th March 2012 after having fished the waters of PNG since the 18th January 2012 (see cruise track map)


The 2012 cruise (PNG-TP2), although shortened to two month, virtually tagged the same number of fish as on the 3 month period in 2011: 39,927, including 28,312 skipjack, 9,607 yellowfin and 2,008 bigeye tunas (see release by species map). It is worth noting that the relatively large numbers of bigeye tagged has never been achieved before in PNG waters.


Over 6,000 tags have been recovered from the 2011 cruise releases (15%), showing that the tag recovery systems installed in the main PNG tuna catch unloading sites is working well. More than 70% of the tags have been recovered by PNG based purse-seiners.


The third and last PNG tagging cruise will happen during the first quarter of 2013 and will, no doubt, bring the total of tuna tagged well over 100,000 for the project.



Detailed reports of this tagging cruise can be read or downloaded on this website.


Pictures of these 2 PNG campaigns can be seen in the photo gallery.



Cruise track during PNG-TP2



Fish releases by species during PNG-TP2




July 12th 2011: The pole and line vessel « Soltai 105 » is back in Noro, its home port in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands after successfully implementing the first cruise of the new PNG tagging project.  The cruise was implemented over a 3 month period and 40 628 tunas were tagged, including 28 707 skipjack, 11 568 yellowfin and 353 bigeye tunas (see release by species map).


This new project is solely financed by PNG, who are aware of the need to manage as best as possible tunas fished in its EEZ, which is one of the most productive on the planet, providing around 10% of the world’s annual catch. Tuna tagging provides critical information for assessing the status of tuna stocks and this new initiative by PNG in combination with over 250 000 tunas that were tagged between 2006 and 2009 during the previous regional tuna tagging programme, is generating the most comprehensive data set for tuna management in the world.   Similar tagging cruises of 3 month duration will again be undertaken in 2012 and 2013 in order to study possible inter-annual variations.


To ensure the best distribution of released fish, the EEZ was divided into 4 zones that are displayed in the release map. The proximity of suitable locations for catching baits is the principal limiting factor in ensuring a balanced distribution of released tags and consequently the northern zone will always be a challenge due to the limited bait supplies in this region.


To best promote the return and quality of information related to recaptured fish (position, date, fish length, etc…), field officers tasked to collect tags have been appointed in the principal landing ports, including, Lae, Madang, Rabaul and Wewak. These persons can also pay the rewards to the fishermen in exchange for the tags and the above mentioned information.


The collected data for this project should allow PNG to gain knowledge about the rate of exploitation of tuna stocks in its EEZ as well as on tuna movements within the wider region. This information will allow, if needed, to apply management measures for this precious resources in order to ensure the sustainability of its use.



Soltai 105



Release by species during PNG 1



Soltai 105 team in April 2011



The team in action