Photos: Abu Dhabi Press Office
A kingfish satellite monitoring project, the first of its kind, has been implemented in Abu Dhabi. The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), in cooperation with the United Arab Emirates University, is implementing the project to manage migratory fishing in the emirate.
“The kingfish satellite tracking project is considered the first of its kind in the world, as there are other similar projects that have been implemented to track sharks, tunas, kingfish and some types of large fish in Norway, Australia and the rest of the world. United States,” said Ahmed Al Hashemi, executive director of EAD’s terrestrial and marine biodiversity sector.
This will be achieved by studying the behaviors and migration patterns of kingfish in the waters of the Arabian Gulf and identifying their biological characteristics, while highlighting their breeding seasons in Abu Dhabi waters.
The kingfish is considered a migratory pelagic fish that exists in small groups at different depths and moves from one area to another in search of food. It was chosen for the study due to its high economic, nutritional and cultural value, being the most captured migratory species in Abu Dhabi.
Satellite fish tracking technology is a modern method to study the migration route and pattern of fish and migratory species. The tracking device is attached to the dorsal fin of the fish in a short period of time to avoid exposing it to stress and ensure the success of the process, after which it is returned to the water to complete its life cycle. The device starts communicating with the satellite and sending data after it is separated from the fish automatically after six months or according to a pre-programmed time period.
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“There are no previous studies in the world to track kingfish, and this may be due to the difficulty involved in capturing this type and installing the device on its body, since doing so requires a lot of speed and care to ensure the success of the process,” ” he said.
“The kingfish’s smooth body and relatively small size compared to sharks and tuna increase the difficulty of positioning the tracker, and fishing operations for scientific research purposes differ greatly from traditional fishing practices.”
Al Hashemi stated that the process of collecting data on fish movement begins after the device is separated from the fish’s body and automatically floats on the water surface after a preset period of six months, or if it detaches. The device then begins to communicate with the satellite and transmit important information about the fish’s trajectory from its launch point. The technical team then begins its efforts to recover the device from the water to obtain all the information and recorded readings by searching for it using geographic positioning systems and the goniometer.
He noted that 8 kingfish monitoring devices out of a total of 18 devices allocated for this project have been installed and launched in Abu Dhabi waters, and the remaining devices will be installed at the beginning of this year’s kingfish season. This will help obtain the data necessary for the study and prepare the final report on the results of the project, with recommendations for the management of fishery resources and the regulation of the exploitation of migratory species in the waters of the emirate.
Studies show that one of the devices, after separating from a fish at a point 100 km from the launch point, showed that the fish had traveled a distance of up to 350 km, which is equivalent to 40 km/day, and at a speed of 1.8 km/hour. The kingfish is a relatively fast-moving fish compared to other species whose movement patterns have been studied, such as the marlin, whose recorded speed reached 0.8 km/hour. The kingfish device recorded more than 2,000 different readings during the monitoring period, which lasted 9 days, or the equivalent of 194 hours.
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