Pacific Tuna Tagging Program - PTTP Print

The Pacific Tuna Tagging Programme started in 2006, is a WPCFC endorsed project being implemented by SPC.It is the largest tagging project ever implemented in the Pacific area.


The tuna fishery in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) has continued to expand over the last 3 decades and now produces approximately half of the world’s tuna and is of high economic importance to Pacific Island Countries and Territories. Throughout the WCPO, total annual catches of target tuna species (skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye and albacore tuna) are now approaching two and a half million metric tonnes (mt).


The fishery comprises a variety of fishing activities, the most important of which are the industrial-scale purse seine, longline and pole-and-line fisheries. Large catches are also made by numerous small fishing vessels employing a variety of fishing methods in the Pacific Ocean waters of Philippines and Indonesia.

While the overall fishery is distributed widely from about 40°N to 40°S, by far the majority of the catch occurs in equatorial waters between 10°N and 10°S, and west of 180°.


The PTTP commenced in response to the continued expansion of the WCPO fisheries with particular emphasis on the growth of the purse-seine fishery. 



  1. To obtain data that will contribute to, and reduce uncertainty in, WCPO tuna stock assessments.
  2. To obtain information on movement and mixing of tuna in the equatorial WCPO, between this region and adjacent regions of the Pacific, and the impact that fish aggregating devices (FADs) have on movement over large and small areas throughout the region
  3. To obtain information on species-specific vertical habitat utilisation by tunas in the tropical WCPO, and the impacts of FADs on vertical behaviour.
  4. To obtain information on local exploitation rates and productivity of tuna in various parts of the WCPO.

To achieve these objectives, the project used tags on skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna throughout the equatorial WCPO (10°N–10°S; 120°E–130°W). A chartered commercial pole-and-­line vessel suitably modified for tagging operated for 20 months, primarily in the western part of this region (west of 180°). Other smaller chartered vessels undertook shorter cruises of 1–2 months in the central Pacific, targeting bigeye tuna by hand-line fishing on drifting FADs, oceanographic moorings and seamounts.


Tagging operation have been undertaken using a variety of chartered vessel FV Soltai 6, FV Soltai 105, FV Double D ,FV AoShibi Go and FV Pacific Sunrise. Tagging activities have been undertaken in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Palau, Philippines, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Indonesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru and the international waters enclosed within these zones. 


Time period Operational Area Tagging vessel
Phase 1 Aug – Nov 2006 Papua New Guinea Soltai 6
Feb – May 2007 Papua New Guinea Soltai 6
Oct – Nov 2007 Solomon Islands Soltai 6
Feb – Mar 2008 Solomon Islands Soltai 6
Apr 2008 Solomon Islands Soltai 105
Phase 2 May – Jun 2008 Central Pacific (CP1) Double D
Jun – Nov 2008 Western Pacific (WP1) Soltai 105
Mar – Jun 2009 Western Pacific (WP2) Soltai 105
May – Jun 2009 Central Pacific (CP2) Double D
Jul – Oct 2009 Western Pacific (WP3) Soltai 105
Oct – Nov 2009 Central Pacific (CP3) Aoshibi Go
May – Jun 2010 Central Pacific (CP4) Aoshibi Go
Nov - Dec 2010 Central Pacific (CP5) Pacific Sunrise
Oct 2011 Central Pacific (CP6) Pacific Sunrise
Nov - Dec 2011 Central Pacific (CP7) Aoshibi Go
PNG April - July 2011 Papua New Guinea Soltai 105
Jan - Mar 2012 Papua New Guinea Soltai 105


Phase 1 focused very successfully upon the waters of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands with their large domestic fisheries and significant contribution to overall regional catches.


Phase 2, approved in August 2007 with substantial new funding initially from New Zealand and subsequently from Korea, aimed to considerably extend the operational area of the PTTP, as well as broadening the scope and operations of the project.Three extended pole-and-line based tagging cruises (WP1, WP2 and WP3), comprising a total of 11 months of charter operations, have been completed within Phase 2.


In 2011 dedicated sampling has PNG commenced with financial support from the National Fisheries Authority of PNG.  Tagging cruises of 3 month duration each are planned for 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Tagging cruises from 2006 to Now

The PTTP has been funded by the New Zealand (NZAID), European Union 9th and 10th European Union Development Fund), Australia (ACIAR), Global Environment Facility, Government of Korea, France (Fonds Pacifique), Republic of China.