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The University of Exeter are a partner in the FISH-INTEL project, led by the University of Plymouth with other partners from the UK, France and Belgium. The total project budget is €4.1 million, of which €2.8 million is funded by the European Regional Development Fund via the Interreg France (Channel) England (FCE) Programme. The University of Exeter has received €190,767 in funding. These funds, together with a contribution of €86,707 from the University of Exeter, will be used to install an animal acoustic tracking network along the south coast of Cornwall to improve knowledge on the movement of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) and by other species tagged during the FISH-INTEL project across the Channel/Manche region.

During 2021, thirty Atlantic bluefin tuna were caught by the University of Exeter along the south coast of Cornwall and were fitted with small electronic tags that create a short acoustic chirp. These chirps are encoded with unique identification numbers for each fish and can be heard by the networks of receivers that are to be installed across the Channel/Mancher region by FISH-INTEL partner organisations. The University of Exeter, with the Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (CIFCA), have installed six acoustic receivers along the south coast of Cornwall (in July 2021). The receiver network will continue to be maintained throughout the lifetime of the FIHS-INTEL project. We eagerly await the return of these highly migratory animals into the Channel/Manche region in early summer 2022.

Research efforts on Atlantic bluefin tuna for FISH-INTEL are being delivered by the University of Exeter. They are also part of a wider collaborative project focusing on Atlantic bluefin tuna, called THUNNUS UK, with the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas).

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Images. An acoustic receiver (left image; Thelma Biotel TBR-800) to be deployed on the seabed in Cornwall for FISH-INTEL. These receivers listen for the characteristic signals (chrips) made by acoustic tags fitted to mobile marine animals. Animal tags used to gain information on mobile animal movement (centre image). Black cylindrical tube is an acoustic tag funded by FISH-INTEL for Atlantic bluefin tuna. Thirty of these tags were deployed in 2021. Some of these tags have already been detected by the acoustic receivers and we eagerly await the return of the highly migratory Atlantic bluefin tuna and perhaps other species tagged across the Channel/Manch region. Map of FISH-INTEL funded acoustic receiver locations (right image).