A Joining of Seas: ‘Wicked Tuna’ Star Meets Kaua’i Fishermen

By Carli Stewart.

Captain Dave Marciano from the National Geographics reality television show “Wicked Tuna” has spent the last few weeks on the island of Kaua’i, Hawaii. Though the Northeast-based star was on vacation with his family at the time, he was eager to re-spark an initiative that brought together local commercial fishermen and marine biologists, and it had stopped due to the pandemic and lack of funding over the past years.

The Ahi Satellite Tagging Project is an initiative that roughly began around 2014, where participating fishermen attach $4000 pop-up satellite archival tags (PSAT tags) to live ahi, also known as Pacific yellowfin tuna. The fish is released quickly after it is tagged and then able to be tracked through its journey through the Pacific Ocean. 14 PSAT tags were placed on yellowfin ranging from 100 to 180 pounds.

Many experienced Hawaii longline and Kauai-based captains assisted in the tagging efforts. The project was funded through a NOAA Cooperative Research grant that allowed placing more PSAT tags in adult ahi. The work of these fishermen resulted in a research paper back in 2020, revealing the substantial distances that these fish travel.

The paper’s coauthor, Dr. Molly Lutcavage, a tuna researcher who splits her time between Lawa’i, HI, and Gloucester, MA, shares, “No one knew what the ahi did because there was no research on the movements of adult ahi from the main Hawaiian Islands on such a scale. Despite being so ubiquitous in the Hawaiian culture and economy, there’s still much to learn about them.”

Captain Marciano of F/V Hard Merchandise has been on almost every season of the show, has spent 40 years on water fishing, and connected with Dr. Lutcavage a few years back.

read more at nationalfisherman.com