Exploitation history of Atlantic bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean—insights from ancient bones
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DepartmentHistoria, Geografía y Filosofía
SourceICES Journal of Marine Science, Vol. 79, Núm. 2, pp. 247-262
Overexploitation has directly, negatively affectedmarine fish populations in the past half-century, modifying not only their abundance but their behaviour and life-history traits. The recovery and resilience of such populations is dependent upon their exploitation history, which often extends backmillennia. Hence, data on when exploitation intensified and how populations were composed in historical periods, have the potential to reveal long-term population dynamics and provide context on the baselines currently used in fisheries management and conservation. Here, we setup a framework for investigations on the exploitation history of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus; BFT) in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean by collating records of their zooarchaeological remains and critically reviewing these alongside the literature. Then, we outline how novel multidisciplinary applications on BFT remains may be used to document long-term population dynamics. Our review of literature provides clear evidence of BFT overexploitation during the mid-th century ce. Furthermore, a strong case could be made that the intensification of BFT exploitation extends back further to at least the th century ce, if not the th–th century ce, in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. However, a host of archaeological evidence would suggest that BFT exploitation may have been intensive since antiquity. Altogether, this indicates that by the currently usedmanagement baselines of the s, population abundance and complexity was already likely to have declined from historical levels, and we identify how biomolecular and morphometric analyses of BFT remains have the potential to further investigate this.