Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 22 Issue 01

View Issue TOC
Volume 22, No. 1


Advances in Conservation Oceanography: New Tagging and Tracking Technologies and Their Potential for Transforming the Science Underlying Fisheries Management

Charles H. Greene | Ocean Resources and Ecosystems Program, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
Barbara A. Block | Department of Biology, Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University, Pacific Grove, CA, USA
David Welch | Kintama Research Corporation, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada
George Jackson | Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, and Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking Project, Vancouver Aquarium, Vancouver, British Columbia
Gareth L. Lawson | previously Department of Biology, Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University, Pacific Grove, CA, USA, and currently Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, USA
Erin L. Rechisky | Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Article Abstract

Overexploitation of living resources and climate change are among the most obvious global-scale impacts of human society on marine ecosystems. In an age of such large-scale anthropogenic impacts, marine scientists, resource managers, and policymakers must rethink their approaches to protecting and managing marine populations and ecosystems. Conservation oceanography is an emerging field of science that incorporates the latest advances in ocean science and technology to provide resource managers and policymakers with the information they need to ensure the sustainability of the marine environment and its living resources. Here, we discuss the historical context of conservation oceanography as it applies to marine fisheries management. We then describe two projects, one focused on Atlantic bluefin tuna and the other on Pacific salmon, that illustrate the potential of new tagging and tracking technologies for transforming the science underlying fisheries management.


Greene, C.H., B.A. Block, D. Welch, G. Jackson, G.L. Lawson, and E.L. Rechisky. 2009. Advances in conservation oceanography: New tagging and tracking technologies and their potential for transforming the science underlying fisheries management. Oceanography 22(1):210–223, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2009.21.


Biuw, M., L. Boehme, C. Guinet, M. Hindell, D. Costa, J.-B. Charrassin, F. Roquet, F. Bailleul, M. Meredith, and others. 2007. Variations in behavior and condition of a Southern Ocean top predator in relation to in situ oceanographic conditions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 104:13,705–1,3710.

Blank, J.M., J.M. Morrissette, A.M. Landeira-Fernandez, S.B. Blackwell, T.D. Williams, and B.A. Block. 2004. In situ cardiac performance of Pacific bluefin tuna hearts in response to acute temperature change. Journal of Experimental Biology 207:881–890.

Block, B.A. 2005. Physiological ecology in the 21st century: Advancements in biologging science. Integrative and Comparative Biology 45:305–320.

Block, B.A., D.P. Costa, G.W. Boehlert, and R.E. Kochevar. 2003. Revealing pelagic habitat use: The Tagging of Pacific Pelagics program. Oceanologica Acta 25:255–266.

Block, B.A., H. Dewar, S.B. Blackwell, T.D. Williams, E.D. Prince, C.J. Farwell, A. Boustany, S.L.H. Teo, A. Seitz, A. Walli, and D. Fudge. 2001. Migratory movements, depth preferences, and thermal biology of Atlantic bluefin tuna. Science 293:1,310–1,314.

Block, B.A., H. Dewar, C. Farwell, and E.D. Prince. 1998. A new satellite technology for tracking the movements of Atlantic bluefin tuna. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 95:9,384–9,389.

Block, B.A., S.L.H. Teo, A. Walli, A. Boustany, M.J.W. Stokesbury, C.J. Farwell, K.C. Weng, H. Dewar, and T.D. Williams. 2005. Electronic tagging and population structure of Atlantic bluefin tuna. Nature 434:1,121–1,127.

Boelhert, G.W., D.P. Costa, D.E. Crocker, P. Green, T. O’Brien, S. Levitus, and B.J. LeBoeuf. 2001. Autonomous pinniped environmental samplers: Using instrumented animals as oceanographic data collectors. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 18:1,882–1,893.

Boustany, A.M., C.A. Reeb, and B.A. Block. 2008. Mitochondrial DNA and electronic tracking reveal population structure of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus). Marine Biology 156:13–24.

Brodeur, R.D., W.T. Peterson, G.W. Boehlert, E. Casillas, M.H. Schiewe, M.B. Eldridge, S.T. Lindley, J.H. Helle, and W.R. Heard. 2000. A coordinated research plan for estuarine and ocean research on Pacific salmon. Fisheries 25(6):7–16.

Carlsson, J., J.R. McDowell, J.E.L. Carlsson, and J.E. Graves. 2007. Genetic identity of YOY bluefin tuna from the eastern and western Atlantic spawning areas. Journal of Heredity 98:23–28.

Castilho, P.C., A.M. Landeira-Fernandez, J. Morrissette, and B.A. Block. 2007. Elevated Ca2+ ATPase (SERCA2) activity in tuna hearts: Comparative aspects of temperature dependence. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A 148:124–132.

Congleton, J.L., W.J. LaVoie, C.B. Schreck, and L.E. Davis. 2000. Stress indices in migrating juvenile chinook salmon and steelhead of wild and hatchery origin before and after barge transportation. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 129:946–961.

Cooke, S.J., S.G. Hinch, A.P. Farrell, D.A. Patterson, K. Miller-Saunders, D.W. Welch, M.R. Donaldson, K.C. Hanson, G.T. Crossin, M.T. Mathes, and others. 2008. Developing a mechanistic understanding of fish migrations by linking telemetry with physiology, behavior, genomics and experimental biology: An interdisciplinary case study on adult Fraser River sockeye salmon. Fisheries 33(7):321–338.

Costa, D.P. 1993. The secret life of marine mammals: Novel tools for studying their behavior and biology at sea. Oceanography 6(3):120–128.

Costa, D.P., J.M. Klinck, E.E. Hofmann, M.S. Dinniman, and J.M. Burns. 2008. Upper ocean variability in west Antarctic Peninsula continental shelf waters as measured using instrumented seals. Deep-Sea Research Part II 55:323–337.

Crossin, G.T., S.G. Hinch, S.J. Cooke, D.W. Welch, S.D. Batten, D.A. Patterson, G. Van Der Kraak, J.M. Shrimpton, and A.P. Farrell. 2007. Behaviour and physiology of sockeye salmon homing through coastal waters to a natal river. Marine Biology 152:905–918.

Crossin, G.T., S.G. Hinch, S.J. Cooke, D.W. Welch, D.A. Patterson, S.R.M. Jones, A.G. Lotto, R.A. Leggatt, M.T. Mathes, J.M. Shrimpton, and others. 2008. Exposure to high temperature influences the behaviour, physiology, and survival of sockeye salmon during spawning migration. Canadian Journal of Zoology 86:127–140.

Cury, P.M., Y.-J. Shin, B. Planque, J.M. Durant, J.-M. Fromentin, S. Kramer-Schadt, N.C. Stenseth, M. Travers, and V. Grimm. 2007. Ecosystem oceanography for global change in fisheries. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 23:338–346.

Essington, T.E., A.H. Beaudreau, and J. Wiedenmann. 2006. Fishing through marine food webs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103:3,171–3,175.

Frank, K.T, B. Petrie, N.L. Shackel, and J.S. Choi. 2006. Reconciling differences in trophic control in mid-latitude marine ecosystems. Ecology Letters 9:1–10.

Gangopadhyay, A., P. Cornillon, and R.D. Watts. 1992. A test of the Parsons-Veronis hypothesis on the separation of the Gulf Stream. Journal of Physical Oceanography 22:1,286–1,301.

Gawarkiewicz, G., S. Monismith, and J. Largier. 2007. Observing larval transport processes affecting population connectivity: Progress and challenges. Oceanography 20(3):40–53.

Govoni, J.J. 2005. Fisheries oceanography and the ecology of early life histories of fishes: A perspective over fifty years. Scientia Marina 69:125–137.

Greene, C.H, and A.J. Pershing. 2007. Climate drives sea change. Science 315:1,084–1,085.

Greene, C.H., A.J. Pershing, T.M. Cronin, and N. Ceci. 2008. Arctic climate change and its impacts on the ecology of the North Atlantic. Ecology 89(11) Supplement S24–38.

Gunn, J., and B. Block. 2001. Advances in acoustic, archival and satellite tagging of tunas. Pp. 167–224 in Tuna: Physiology, Ecology and Evolution. B.A. Block and E.D. Stevens, eds, Academic Press, San Diego, CA.

Jackson, J.B.C., M.X. Kirby, W.H. Berger, K.A. Bjorndal, L.W. Botsford, B.J. Bourque, R.H. Bradbury, R. Cooke, J. Erlandson, J.A. Estes, and others. 2001. Historical overfishing and the recent collapse of coastal ecosystems. Science 293:629–637.

Kendall, A.W., and G.J. Duker. 1998. The development of recruitment fisheries oceanography in the United States. Fisheries Oceanography 7:69–88.

Kitagawa, T., H. Nakata, S. Kimura, T. Itoh, S. Tsuji, and A. Nitta. 2000. Effect of ambient temperature on the vertical distribution and movement of Pacific bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus orientalis. Marine Ecology Progress Series 206:251–260.

Krkošek, J.S. Ford, A. Morton, S. Lele, R.A. Myers, M.A. Lewis. 2007. Declining wild salmon populations in relation to parasites from farm salmon. Science 318:1,772–1,775.

Kurota, H., M.K. McAllister, G.L. Lawson, J.I. Nogueira, S.L.H. Teo, and B.A. Block. In press. A sequential Bayesian methodology to estimate movement and exploitation rates using electronic and conventional tag data: Application to Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

Laidre, K.L., and M.P. Heide-Jorgensen. 2007. Using narwhals as ocean-observing platforms in the high Arctic. Oceanography 20(4):30–35.

Larkin, P.A. 1977. An epitaph for the concept of maximum sustainable yield. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 106:1–11.

Lindley, S.T., M.L. Moser, D.L. Erickson, M. Belchik, D.W. Welch, E.L. Rechisky, J.T. Kelly, J. Heublein, A.P. Klimley. 2008. Marine migration of North American green sturgeon. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 137:182–194.

Lotze, H.K., H.S. Lenihan, B.J. Bourque, R.H. Bradbury, R.G. Cooke, M.C. Kay, S.M. Kidwell, M.X. Kirby, C.H. Peterson, and J.B.C. Jackson. 2006. Depletion, degradation, and recovery potential of estuaries and coastal seas. Science 312:1,806–1,809.

Mantua, N.J., S.R. Hare, Y. Zhang, J.M. Wallace, and R.C. Francis. 1996. A Pacific interdecadal climate oscillation with impacts on salmon production. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 78:1,069-1,079.

Melnychuk, M.C., D.W. Welch, D.J. Walters, and V. Christensen. 2007. Riverine and early ocean migration and mortality patterns of juvenile steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) from the Cheakamus River, British Columbia. Hydrobiologia 582:55–65.

MERCINA. 2001. Oceanographic responses to climate in the Northwest Atlantic. Oceanography 14(3):76–82.

Miller, T.J. 2007. Contribution of individual-based coupled physical-biological models to understanding recruitment in marine fish populations. Marine Ecology Progress Series 347:127–138.

Muir, W.D., D.M. Marsh, B.P. Sandford, S.G. Smith, and J.G. Williams. 2006. Post-hydropower system delayed mortality of transported Snake River stream-type chinook salmon: Unraveling the mystery. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 135:1,523–1,534

Myers, R.A., S.A. Levin, R. Lande, F.C. James, W.W. Murdoch, and R.T. Paine. 2004. Hatcheries and endangered salmon. Science 303:1,980.

Myers, R.A., and B. Worm. 2003. Rapid worldwide depletion of predatory fish communities. Nature 423:280–283.

Nielsen, A., K.A. Bigelow, M.K. Musyl, and J.R. Sibert. 2006. Improving light-based geolocation by including sea surface temperature. Fisheries Oceanography 15:314–325.

NRC. 1996. Upstream: Salmon and Society in the Pacific Northwest. National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 452 pp.

Pauly, D. 1995. Anecdotes and the shifting baseline syndrome of fisheries. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 10:430.

Pauly, D., V. Christensen, J. Daisgaard, R. Froese, and F. Torres Jr. 1998. Fishing down marine food webs. Science 860–863.

Pauly, D., V. Christensen, S. Guénette T.J. Pitcher, U.R. Sumaila, C.J. Walters, R. Watson and D. Zeller. 2002. Toward sustainability in world fisheries. Nature 418:689–695.

Perry, M.J., and D.L. Rudnick. 2003. Observing the ocean with autonomous and Lagrangian platforms and sensors: The role of ALPS in sustained ocean observing systems. Oceanography 16(4):31–36.

PEW Oceans Commission. 2003. America’s Living Oceans: Charting a Course for Sea Change. A Report to the Nation. PEW Oceans Commission, Arlington, VA.

Reid, P.C., J.M. Colebrook, J.B.L. Matthews, and J. Aiken. 2003. The Continuous Plankton Recorder: Concepts and history, from plankton indicators to undulating recorders. Progress in Oceanography 58:117–173.

Ricker, W.E. 1954. Stock and recruitment. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 11:559–623.

Rooker, J.R., D.H. Secor, G. DeMetrio, R. Schloesser, B.A. Block, and J.D. Neilson. 2008. Natal homing and connectivity in Atlantic bluefin tuna populations. Science 31:742–744.

Rothstein, L.M., J.J. Cullen, M. Abbott, E.P. Chassignet, K. Denman, S.C. Doney, H. Ducklow, K. Fennel, M. Follows, D. Haidvogel, and others. 2006.Modeling ocean ecosystems: The PARADIGM Program. Oceanography 19(1):16–45.

Rozwadowski, H.M. 2002. The Sea Knows No Boundaries: A Century of Marine Science Under ICES. International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, Copenhagen, in cooperation with University of Washington Press, 448 pp.

Ruckelshaus, M.H., P. Levin, J.B. Johnson, and P.M. Kareiva. 2002. The Pacific salmon wars: What science brings to the challenge of recovering species. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 33:665–706.

Safina, C., and D.H. Klinger. 2007. Collapse of bluefin tuna in the western Atlantic. Conservation Biology 22:243–246.

Schaefer, M.B. 1954. Some aspects of the dynamics of populations important to the management of the commercial marine fisheries. Bulletin of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission 1:25–56.

Sibert, J., J. Hampton, P. Kleiber, and M. Maunder. 2006. Biomass, size, and trophic status of top predators in the Pacific Ocean. Science 314:1,773–1,776.

Sibert, J.R., and J. Nielsen, eds. 2001. Electronic Tagging and Tracking in Marine Fisheries. Kluwer Academic Publishers, The Netherlands, 484 pp.

Taylor, A.H., and J.A. Stephens. 1998. The North Atlantic Oscillation and the latitude of the Gulf Stream. Tellus 50A:134–142.

Teo, S.L.H., A. Boustany, S. Blackwell, A. Walli, K.C. Weng, and B.A. Block. 2004. Validation of geolocation estimates based on light level and sea surface temperature from electronic tags. Marine Ecology Progress Series 283:81–98.

Teo, S.L.H., A. Boustany, and B.A. Block. 2007a. Oceanographic preferences of Atlantic bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus, on their Gulf of Mexico breeding grounds. Marine Biology 152:1,105–1,119.

Teo, S.L.H., A. Boustany, H. Dewar, M.J.W. Stokesbury, K. Weng, S. Beemer, A.C. Seitz, C.J. Farwell, E.D. Prince, and B.A. Block. 2007b. Annual migrations, diving behavior, and thermal biology of Atlantic bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus, on their Gulf of Mexico breeding grounds. Marine Biology 151:1–18.

US Commission on Ocean Policy. 2004. An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century. Final Report. Washington, DC, 378 pp.

Welch, D.W., G.W. Boehlert, and B.R. Ward. 2003. POST: The Pacific Ocean salmon tracking project. Oceanologica Acta 25:243–253.

Welch, D.W., E.L. Rechisky, M.C. Melnychuk, A.D. Porter, C.J. Walters, S. Clements, B.J. Clemens, R.S. McKinley, and C. Schreck. 2008. Survival of migrating salmon smolts in large rivers with and without dams. PLoS Biology 6(10):e265, doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060265.

Welch, D.W., S. Turo, and S.D. Batten. 2006. Large-scale marine and freshwater movements of white sturgeon. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 135:140–143.

Welch, D.W., B.R. Ward, and S.D. Batten. 2004. Early ocean survival and marine movements of hatchery and wild steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) determined by an acoustic array: Queen Charlotte Strait, British Columbia. Deep-Sea Research Part II 51:897–909.

Weng, K.C., P.C. Castilho, J.M. Morrissette, A.M. Landeira-Fernandez, D.B. Holts, R.J. Schallert, K.J. Goldman, and B.A. Block. 2005. Satellite tagging and cardiac physiology reveal niche expansion in salmon sharks. Science 310:104–106.

Werner, F.E., R.K. Cowen, and C.P. Paris. 2007. Coupled biological and physical models: Present capabilities and necessary developments for future studies of population connectivity. Oceanography 20(3):54–69.

Wilson, S.G., M.E. Lutcavage, R.W. Brill, M.P. Genovese, A.B. Cooper, and A.W. Everly. 2005. Movements of bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean recorded by pop up satellite archival tags. Marine Biology 146:409–423.

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.