Illustration of Tuna (Yellowfin)

Tuna (Yellowfin)

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Seafood Variety

Harvest Method

Regions

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

Handline, Pole, Troll

Location

East Pacific Ocean

Overall Rating

3 / 5

Summary

The yellowfin tuna population in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is classified as overfished, as the most recent assessment reported spawning biomass ratios to be below maximum sustainable yield. However, mortality rates are at a sustainable level and the fishery is not undergoing overfishing. Bycatch is generally very low. Management is through the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) in the high seas waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean, though the majority of management measures apply specifically to the purse seine and longline fisheries, not the troll, pole and line and handline fisheries. Gear does not impact the bottom habitat, and although the IATTC takes into account ecosystem factors in management decisions, these do not directly impact the troll, pole and handline fisheries.

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Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

Dolphin-set purse seine

Location

Pacific Ocean (East)

Overall Rating

2.9 / 5

Summary

The majority of yellowfin from the Pacific Ocean are caught with purse seines. In 2013, yellowfin purse seine landings in the east Pacific amounted to 216,000 t, with Mexico catching nearly half of this total. Three main purse seine methods are used to catch this species in the east Pacific: unassociated, dolphin, and FAD sets. Over 70% of the tuna caught in the east Pacific are from dolphin-associated sets, and this is the only sustainable purse seine fishing method for yellowfin in this region. Yellowfin tuna have life history characteristics that make them moderately vulnerable to fishing pressure. Based on a 2014 stock assessment, the eastern Pacific population of yellowfin is in an overfished state; the current fishing mortality is thought to be occurring at a sustainable level, although there are some uncertainties surrounding the data. The management body in charge of tuna in the east Pacific Ocean is the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). Although they are currently in the process of developing target and limit reference points for their tuna stocks, stock assessments are conducted regularly. Purse seiners are also subject to annual temporal closures, and 100% observer coverage on large vessels. With regard to bycatch, the IATTC has up-to-date information on by-catch and discards associated with its purse seine fleets and is in the process of developing stricter discarding protocols. Dolphin-associated purse seines catch non-target species, although at a much lower rate than purse seines used with fish aggregating devices (FADs). Since these fisheries target yellowfin tuna as they school with pods of dolphins, high dolphin mortality was common with this fishing practice in the past (1960s and 1970s). However, substantial effort has gone into mitigating dolphin bycatch such that it is no longer a significant problem. Purse seines have no negative impacts on bottom habitat as they do not come into contact with the seafloor. Nonetheless, in removing large quantities of high trophic level species such as tunas, these fisheries could potentially influence large changes to the structure and function of the ecosystem in the future.

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  • Dolphin-set purse seine
Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

Deepset longline

Location

Hawaii (Western)

Overall Rating

3.2 / 5

Summary

The Hawaiian longline fishery uses both shallow-set and deep-set longlines, primarily to target swordfish, albacore, bigeye, skipjack and yellowfin tuna. Swordfish are targeted by the Hawaii shallow set pelagic longline fishery. Abundance levels are thought to be high and fishing mortality rates low enough to maintain healthy populations. Incidental capture of sea turtles has led to the closure of this fishery between 2001 and 2004. The fishery reopened in 2005 with several new management measured aimed at reducing sea turtle and bird bycatch, which has successfully reduced bycatch levels. The longline fisheries in Hawaii are managed by the state of Hawaii and the US Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC). Given that they target highly migratory species (i.e., swordfish and tuna), these fisheries are also under the jurisdiction of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in the west Pacific and Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) in the east. Domestic measures are moderately effective, and place emphasis on preventing overfished stock status. Observer coverage is 100% in the shallow-set fishery and 20% in the deep-set and bycatch monitoring and mitigation efforts are highly effective. Typically, deep-set longlines catch fewer seabirds and sea turtles than shallow-set lines. However, deep-set lines are known to occasionally catch larger marine species, including whales and sharks. Specifically, the Hawaiian deep-set longline fishery has some bycatch of false killer whales and shortfin mako sharks. Deep-set longlines rarely contact the seafloor. As such, they have minimal impact on the surrounding marine environment. The species caught in the Hawaii longline fisheries are managed under a Fishery Ecosystem Plan that aims to address fishery effects on other species, habitats and the ecosystem as a whole. However, the continued removal of large predatory fish from the ecosystem is not yet fully understood. All but the Eastern Pacific Yellowfin fishery is Ocean Wise recommended due to concerns around overfishing.

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Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

Unassociated purse seine

Location

Pacific Ocean (West)

Overall Rating

3.4 / 5

Summary

The majority of yellowfin from the Pacific Ocean are caught with purse seines. In 2013, yellowfin purse seine landings in the west Pacific amounted to almost 345,000 t, with Indonesia currently taking the majority of the catch. Two main purse seine methods are used to catch this species in the west Pacific: unassociated and FAD sets; only yellowfin caught by unassociated sets from the west Pacific are sustainable. Yellowfin tuna have life history characteristics that make them moderately vulnerable to fishing pressure. Although there are some uncertainties surrounding the data, the western Pacific yellowfin stock is healthy; according to the most recent stock assessment, it is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. The management body in charge of tuna in the west Pacific Ocean is the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). The WCPFC has implemented some management measures for the unassociated purse seine tuna fishery, including catch limits, area closures, and limits on numbers of fishing vessels. Stock assessments are performed regularly, but uncertainties exist around the data. Purse seines catch non-target species, although at a much lower rate than purse seines used with fish aggregating devices (FADs). Despite the lower bycatch levels, the unassociated purse seine fleet does catch whale sharks (which are a species of concern). Purse seines have no negative impacts on bottom habitat as they do not come into contact with the seafloor. However, in removing large quantities of high trophic level species such as tunas and sharks, these fisheries could potentially influence large changes to the structure and function of the ecosystem in the future.

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Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

Handline, Troll

Location

Western Central Pacific Ocean (excluding Hawaii)

Overall Rating

3.7-3.9 / 5

Summary

Compared to other gears (i.e., longline, purse seine) few tuna are caught by troll/pole and line; catches by these gears currently make up only 5% of the total yellowfin tuna landed in the western Pacific (approx. 32,000 t/year). Trolling gears are highly selective and have minimal impacts on the surrounding environment and ecosystem. Yellowfin tuna have life history characteristics that make them moderately vulnerable to fishing pressure. Based on a 2014 stock assessment, the eastern Pacific population of yellowfin is in an overfished state; the current fishing mortality is thought to be occurring at a sustainable level, although there are some uncertainties surrounding the data. In the western Pacific, the stock is healthier as it is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring.

The management body responsible for the management of tuna in the western Pacific Ocean is the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). Biomass based limit reference points have been adopted by the management body for all tuna stocks, but there are no harvest control rules for yellowfin at present.

Due to their high selectively, troll/pole and line gears cause minimal bycatch– less than 1% of the catch is non-target species. Occasionally overfished bigeye tuna can be caught as bycatch, and in these cases, bigeye are retained rather than discarded. The majority of non-target species can be released live due to the nature of the fishing method.

Trolls/poles and line do not make contact with the ocean floor and therefore cause little to no habitat damage. In order to catch yellowfin, smaller forage fish (e.g., sardines) are used as bait; the effect of the removal of these species on the ecosystem is unknown and few bait fisheries are managed.

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Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Solomon Islands skipjack and yellowfin tuna purse seine and pole & line

Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

Unassociated purse seine

Location

Western and Central Pacific Ocean. FAO Statistical area 71

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Solomon Islands skipjack and yellowfin tuna purse seine and pole & line

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

 

 

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Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Fiji albacore and yellowfin tuna longline

Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

Pelagic longline

Location

Fiji

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Fiji albacore and yellowfin tuna longline

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

 

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Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Maldives pole and line skipjack and yellowfin tuna

Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

Pole, Troll

Location

Maldives

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Maldives pole and line skipjack and yellowfin tuna

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - American Samoa EEZ Albacore and Yellowfin Longline Fishery

Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

Longline

Location

American Samoa

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
American Samoa EEZ Albacore and Yellowfin Longline Fishery

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Tri Marine Western and Central Pacific skipjack and yellowfin tuna

Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

Unassociated purse seine

Location

Western and Central Pacific

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Tri Marine Western and Central Pacific skipjack and yellowfin tuna

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

 

 

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Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

Pole, Troll

Location

Atlantic Ocean

Overall Rating

2.4 - 2.6 / 5

Summary

A more accurate stock assessment would be beneficial in estimating the stock status of yellowfin tuna in the Atlantic Ocean. Yellowfin tuna have life history characteristics that make them moderately vulnerable to fishing pressure. Although there is high uncertainty in the data, the last stock assessment performed in 2011 suggests the Atlantic population of yellowfin is overfished and overfishing may be occurring. As greenstick fishing occurs within federal waters of the US, the US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is the organization responsible for the greenstick yellowfin tuna fishery. Management has been successful at reducing bycatch by introducing greenstick gear. Catches of non-target species of concern such as Atlantic Bluefin tuna, sea turtles, and sea birds has been reduced. There are no catch limits for yellowfin caught in the greenstick fishery, but a minimum size limit exists. Other regulations include fishing permits, maintenance of logbooks, and compliance with international regulations set by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). There is no rebuilding plan for yellowfin tuna in the US which is of concern as the population may be overfished. However, yellowfin is included in a multi-year conservation plan under ICCAT and stock assessments are performed every 4-6 years. Due to its high selectivity, greenstick gear cause minimal bycatch. Yellowfin tuna comprise the majority of the catch at 83%. Occasionally overfished bigeye tuna can be caught as bycatch, and in these cases, bigeye are retained rather than discarded. Other incidental catches include other tuna species, mahi mahi and other bony fish. Greensticks do not make contact with the ocean floor and therefore cause little to no habitat damage.

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Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

FAD purse seine, Pelagic longline

Location

Pacific Ocean (excluding Hawaii)

Overall Rating

1.9-2.4 / 5

Summary

Purse seines are the most common gear used to fish for yellowfin tuna in the Pacific Ocean, and purse seine catches of yellowfin tuna in this Ocean amounted to about 565,000 t in 2013. Yellowfin tuna have life history characteristics that make them moderately vulnerable to fishing pressure. Based on a 2014 stock assessment, the eastern Pacific population of yellowfin is in an overfished state; the current fishing mortality is thought to be occurring at a sustainable level, although there are some uncertainties surrounding the data. The management body responsible for management of all tuna in the eastern Pacific it is the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). Although many management measures exist, there are no limits on the number of FAD sets used per year and management has thus far been ineffective in reducing bycatch of bigeye on FAD sets. Fish-aggregating devices (FADs) are large objects left in the ocean to attract a target tuna species (e.g., yellowfin tuna). However, they also attract numerous other marine species (including other tunas, sharks, sea turtles, and birds). Many of the tuna they catch in association with their target catch are juveniles (e.g., bigeye), and some of the non-target species caught are also of threatened or endangered status. Of special concern are the oceanic whitetip shark and the silky shark. Some purse seines using FADs are anchored to the seafloor, but most do not contact the bottom and therefore cause minimal habitat damage. Nonetheless, since there are no limits on the number of FADs placed in a given fishing area, there is potential for the ecosystem impacts (particularly with regard to removing juvenile fish and non-target sharks and other marine species) of FAD use to be substantial.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

Unassociated purse seine

Location

Pacific Ocean (East)

Overall Rating

2.6 / 5

Summary

The majority of yellowfin from the Pacific Ocean are caught with purse seines. In 2013, yellowfin purse seine landings in the east Pacific amounted to 216,000 t, with Mexico catching nearly half of this total. Three main purse seine methods are used to catch this species in the east Pacific: unassociated, dolphin, and FAD sets. Over 70% of the tuna caught in the east Pacific are from dolphin-associated sets, and this is the only sustainable purse seine fishing method for yellowfin in this region. Yellowfin tuna have life history characteristics that make them moderately vulnerable to fishing pressure. Based on a 2014 stock assessment, the eastern Pacific population of yellowfin is in an overfished state; the current fishing mortality is thought to be occurring at a sustainable level, although there are some uncertainties surrounding the data. The management body in charge of tuna in the east Pacific Ocean is the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). Although they are currently in the process of developing target and limit reference points for their tuna stocks, stock assessments are conducted regularly. Purse seiners are also subject to annual temporal closures, and 100% observer coverage on large vessels. With regard to bycatch, the IATTC has up-to-date information on by-catch and discards associated with its purse seine fleets and is in the process of developing stricter discarding protocols. Typically, unassociated purse seining generates less bycatch than purse seining with fish aggregating devices (FADs). However, the unassociated fishery for yellowfin tuna also attracts a variety of other marine species (including other tunas, sharks, sea turtles, and birds). Of special concern is the bycatch of manta rays, which have a highly vulnerable population and are increasingly threatened by industrial fishing practices. Purse seines have no negative impacts on bottom habitat as they do not come into contact with the seafloor. Nonetheless, in removing large quantities of high trophic level species such as tunas, these fisheries could potentially influence large changes to the structure and function of the ecosystem in the future.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

FAD purse seine, Pelagic longline, Unassociated purse seine

Location

Atlantic Ocean

Overall Rating

0 - 2 / 5

Summary

Purse seines are the most common gear used to fish for yellowfin tuna in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean, whereas longlines catch the majority of the yellowfin in the Western Atlantic. Catches of yellowfin tuna almost halved from 194,000 tonnes in 1990 to 100,000 tonnes in 2007. Landings have slowly been increasing and in 2013, 58,014 tonnes were landed in the eastern Atlantic purse seine fishery, and 7,903 tonnes were landed in the western Atlantic purse seine fishery in 2014. Due to its life history characteristics, yellowfin tuna has a medium inherent vulnerable to fishing. Although there is high uncertainty in the data, the last stock assessment suggests the Atlantic population of yellowfin is overfished and overfishing may be occurring. The management body responsible for management of all tuna in the Atlantic Ocean is the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Yellowfin tunas are regulated via catch limits, vessel capacity limitations, and limits on the number of vessels allowed to fish. As yellowfin tuna are overfished in the Atlantic Ocean, they were added to the multi-year Atlantic tuna conservation and management program in 2011. Regular stock assessments are conducted. Management has followed scientific advice regarding catch limits. Unassociated purse seines have no negative impacts on bottom habitat as they do not come into contact with the seafloor. However, in removing large quantities of high trophic level species such as tunas and sharks, these fisheries could potentially influence large changes to the structure and function of the ecosystem in the future.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

FAD purse seine, Pelagic longline, Pole, Troll, Unassociated purse seine

Location

Indian Ocean

Overall Rating

2.2 / 5

Summary

Purse seine is the second most common gear catching yellowfin tuna in the Indian Ocean. In 2013, about 390,000 t of yellowfin were landed in this ocean, of which about 170,000 t was caught with purse seine. Due to its life history characteristics, yellowfin tuna has a medium inherent vulnerable to fishing. Based on the 2013 stock assessment, the Indian Ocean yellowfin stock is not currently overfished. Catches in recent years have exceeded the maximum sustainable yield, but it is unclear if the status is moving towards overfishing. The management body responsible for management of all tuna in the Indian Ocean is the Indian Ocean Tuna Committee (IOTC). Regular stock assessments are performed, and catch limits and spatial closures have been set up in recent years. The IOTC also has management measures in place specific to purse seine fisheries. Countries had to submit a FAD management plan to the Commission by the end of 2013. However, the information required for these plans does not need to be submitted until 2015. In addition, there are ongoing concerns of vessel non-compliance with regulations, and improper catch reporting by member fishing countries is also a common occurrence. Unassociated purse seines have no negative impacts on bottom habitat as they do not come into contact with the seafloor. However, in removing large quantities of high trophic level species such as tunas and sharks, these fisheries could potentially influence large changes to the structure and function of the ecosystem in the future.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

Deepset longline

Location

Hawaii (Eastern)

Overall Rating

2.7 / 5

Summary

The Hawaiian longline fishery uses both shallow-set and deep-set longlines, primarily to target swordfish, albacore, bigeye, skipjack and yellowfin tuna. Swordfish are targeted by the Hawaii shallow set pelagic longline fishery. Abundance levels are thought to be high and fishing mortality rates low enough to maintain healthy populations. Incidental capture of sea turtles has led to the closure of this fishery between 2001 and 2004. The fishery reopened in 2005 with several new management measured aimed at reducing sea turtle and bird bycatch, which has successfully reduced bycatch levels. The longline fisheries in Hawaii are managed by the state of Hawaii and the US Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC). Given that they target highly migratory species (i.e., swordfish and tuna), these fisheries are also under the jurisdiction of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in the west Pacific and Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) in the east. Domestic measures are moderately effective, and place emphasis on preventing overfished stock status. Observer coverage is 100% in the shallow-set fishery and 20% in the deep-set and bycatch monitoring and mitigation efforts are highly effective. Typically, deep-set longlines catch fewer seabirds and sea turtles than shallow-set lines. However, deep-set lines are known to occasionally catch larger marine species, including whales and sharks. Specifically, the Hawaiian deep-set longline fishery has some bycatch of false killer whales and shortfin mako sharks. Deep-set longlines rarely contact the seafloor. As such, they have minimal impact on the surrounding marine environment. The species caught in the Hawaii longline fisheries are managed under a Fishery Ecosystem Plan that aims to address fishery effects on other species, habitats and the ecosystem as a whole. However, the continued removal of large predatory fish from the ecosystem is not yet fully understood. All but the Eastern Pacific Yellowfin fishery is Ocean Wise recommended due to concerns around overfishing.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

Unassociated purse seine

Location

Western and Central Pacific

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
PNA Western and Central Pacific skipjack and tuna

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

 

 

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Yellowfin tuna

Thunnus albacares

Method

Wild

Pelagic longline

Location

Australia - FAO statistical area 81, Western and Central Pacific Ocean

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Walker Seafood Australia albacore, yellowfin tuna and swordfish

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

 

 

Learn more about harvest methods