• Slide 1
  • Slide 2
  • Slide 3
  • Slide 4
  • Slide 5
  • Slide 6
  • Slide 7
  • Slide 8
  • Slide 9

Marine fisheries production, although stagnating over the last two decades, has been contributing 55% of global fish production. Increased awareness of fish as a unique nutrient-rich health food, as well as source of quality animal protein, has stimulated the demand for fish in general and marine fish in particular. Over the last two decades, the Asia-Pacific region witnessed a spurt in fishing effort, resulting in dwindling fish catches. Although species richness, high fecundity and varied spawning peaks helped tropical marine fisheries overcome the challenges of higher fishing pressure, high exploitation of commercially important groups has caused serious sustainability concern. Climate change will also likely have considerable impact on fisheries sustainability. For marine harvests to keep growing, mariculture must also receive increased emphasis. Accessing extensive and reliable information on these vast and dynamic oceanic resources remains a challenging task. In this endeavour, the Asian Fisheries Society’s efforts, with support of partners, through the formation of AsiaPacific-FishWatch has been exemplary in generating and disseminating a wealth of information on the region's marine resources. While this comprehensive information base has been helping in drawing up strategic management plans for responsible fisheries by different countries in this region, I sincerely wish that the AsiaPacific-FishWatch will expand its scope and horizon in coming years by associating with more stakeholders involved with the sector.

- Dr. J. K. Jena, President, Asian Fisheries Society

JKJ

Albacore Tuna

Scientific Name:
Thunnus alalunga

Authority:
Bonnaterre 1788

Common Name:
Albacore Tuna

Quick Facts

Albacore tuna are large oceanic and highly migratory fish found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. In the Indian and the Western and Central Pacific oceans, they migrate seasonally in temperate, sub-tropical and tropical waters. Albacore tuna are associated with ocean gyres, fronts and ocean current systems. They are found from surface layers to a depth of 600 m. They tend to move in single species schools, and do not commonly associate with floating objects.

In the Pacific Ocean, two stocks and their fisheries are distinguished, namely the Northern Pacific Albacore and the Southern Pacific Albacore. In the Indian Ocean, a single stock is assumed.

Albacore tuna can live for more than 14 years and can reach a maximum size of 40 kg and 127 cm in length. Relative to other oceanic tunas, albacore is intermediate in size between skipjack and yellowfin tuna.

FISHERIES

Albacore tuna is important in commercial fisheries around the world, accounting for about 6% of the world’s catch of major tunas. In the Pacific Ocean (Western, Central and Eastern), 5% of the tuna caught are albacore and, in the Indian Ocean, 4% are albacore.

Albacore are caught mainly by longline gear which accounts for 96% of the catch. Distant-water fleets of Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan, and domestic fleets of several Indian Ocean and Pacific Island countries catch primarily adult albacore. A minor troll fishery targets juvenile albacore, notably in New Zealand coastal waters and in the Central Pacific in the region of the Sub-Tropical Convergence Zone. A minor pole-and-line fishery is operated by Japanese vessels in the northern part of the albacore Pacific Ocean range.

The fishery is highly seasonal, operating in the higher latitudes during late summer and autumn and in lower latitudes during winter. Albacore tuna spawn in tropical and sub-tropical waters in the spring and summer. Juveniles are most common in higher latitudes.

SUSTAINABILITY AND MANAGEMENT

None of the three albacore tuna stocks are currently overfished, but the NPO stock is on the borderline of overfishing and the IO stock experienced a period of overfishing around 2010 but has since moved back to a state of not being subject to overfishing. Since 1990, the longline catch in the Western and Central Pacific has expanded in its extent, and the disproportionate depletion of the older, larger albacore tuna has reduced the size and profitability of the catch.

The resource is managed by regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) - the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) - and national governments.

The status of an albacore tuna stock is challenging to assess because each stock is harvested by several different fishing gears, over a wide geographic area with each gear type tending to catch fish of a different size range. Fleets fishing in different areas and seasons also tend to catch different size ranges of fish.

VALUE CHAINS

Albacore is sold mainly as canned tuna (90% of catch) and is marketed as a premium ’white meat’ tuna mainly in USA, Canada, Middle East, Australia, Japan and the UK. It is also consumed in domestic markets wherever it is produced.

FOOD

Albacore is a premium ‘white meat’ canned tuna product. It is the highest quality canned tuna, and an excellent protein source. Albacore is also sold fresh or frozen and converted into products such as steaks, sashimi and in sushi.

ECOSYSTEM AND CLIMATE

As most albacore tuna is caught by longline gear, bycatch of open ocean sharks and rays, sea turtles, sea birds and marine mammals are of greatest environmental concern.

Longline fishing is among the most energy intensive fishing operations as measured by greenhouse gases produced per tonne of fish landed. Unless strictly managed, processing operations for albacore (mainly canning) can also have negative impacts on the surrounding land and sea environment.

Under climate change, the location of prime albacore tuna fishing grounds is expected to shift. In the Pacific Ocean, the more frequent El Niño episodes and fewer La Nina events appear to be negatively affecting albacore stock abundance.

Sustainability

WILD HARVEST FISHERIES

All albacore tuna production is from wild harvest fisheries. Albacore tuna is a moderately fast-growing, widely distributed and very fecund species. Fisheries for albacore tuna in Asia-Pacific exploit three albacore tuna stocks, namely the southern Pacific Ocean (SPO) and northern Pacific Ocean (NPO) stocks, and the Indian Ocean (IO) stock. The two Pacific stocks occur across the ocean basin and the status of each stock is assessed separately. Albacore tuna is fished by many different methods and, despite its high productivity, its stocks face future challenges due to high demand. None of the three stocks are currently overfished, but the NPO stock is on the borderline of overfishing and the IO stock experienced a period of overfishing around 2010 but has since moved back to a state of not being subject to overfishing. The most common fishing methods for all stocks cause environmental concerns due to bycatch.

IUCN RED LIST STATUS

Near Threatened (globally) IUCN Red List Albacore Tuna

NPO albacore tuna populations have shown little decline but fishing is considered to be too high and the North Pacific fishery is classified as experiencing overfishing.

STATE OF THE STOCKS AND IMPACTS OF FISHING

The albacore tuna resources of the SPO, NPO and the IO are not overfished but the scientific assessments indicate concern about the levels of fishing mortality in the NPO and, in the recent past, the IO. The main methods used, longlining and pole and line fishing, create environmental concerns because of bycatch and the potential impact on baitfish, respectively.

The following albacore tuna stock status information, by ocean and stock, is drawn from the scientific reports of the regional fisheries management organisations and from the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation’s (ISSF) overview of stock status, rankings of management measures and impacts of fishing on bycatch (Status of the Stocks Technical Report).

SPO ALBACORE TUNA

Stock Abundance

Green – B>BMSY

Fishing Mortality

Green – F<FMSY

Environment

Orange – 96% of the catch is made by longlining. Several bycatch mitigation measures are in place (turtles, sharks, sea birds).

Green - 4% of the catch is made by trolling, with little impact on non-target species.

NPO ALBACORE TUNA

Stock Abundance

Green – B>BMSY

Fishing Mortality

Yellow – F ≤ FMSY. Although the point estimate of current F is below various FMSY proxies (so it could be rated Green), it is highly unlikely that increased fishing effort will result in significantly increased sustained catches, but it will significantly reduce spawning biomass. Both IATTC and WCPFC have measures in place to limit fishing effort or fishing capacity targeted on this stock.

Environment

Orange - 39% of the catch is made by longlining. Several bycatch mitigation measures are in place (turtles, sharks, sea birds).

Yellow - 36% of the catch is made by pole-and-line fishing, with unknown impacts on baitfish species.

Green - 23% of the catch is made by trolling, with little impact on non-target species.

IO ALBACORE TUNA

Stock abundance

Green –  B > BMSY. However there is considerable uncertainty in the assessment results.

Fishing mortality

Yellow – F < FMSY. However, there is considerable uncertainty in the assessment results.

Environment

Orange - Almost 100% of the catch is made by longlining. Several mitigation measures are in place (sharks, turtles, sea birds). Monitoring is deficient.

CERTIFICATES FOR SUSTAINABILITY OF WILD HARVEST FISHERY

Marine Stewardship Council (www.msc.org)

  • AAFA and WFOA North Pacific albacore tuna: certified from 2007, currently to December 2017.
  • Canadian Highly Migratory Species Foundation (CHMSF) British Columbia albacore tuna North Pacific: certified from March 2010 for 10 years.
  • New Zealand albacore tuna troll: certified since 2011, presently until 2022
  • Fiji albacore tuna longline: certified December 2012 for 5 years.
  • SZLC, HNSFC & CFA Cook Islands EEZ South Pacific albacore longline: certified from June 2015 for 5 years.
  • Walker Seafood Australia albacore, yellowfin tuna and swordfish: certified from August 2015 for 5 years.
  • Japanese Pole and Line skipjack and albacore tuna fishery: certified from October 2016 for 5 years.

Several other albacore fisheries are undergoing MSC assessment.

Friends of the Sea (www.friendofthesea.org)

  • Friend of the Sea does not certify fisheries, but rather fishing fleets, including some company fleets fishing for akbacore and other tunas in the Asia-Pacific region. A list of currently certified fleets can be found through this link.
  • Albacore tuna has not been the object of targeted sustainable tuna conservation programs.

    FISHERIES ASSESSMENTS

    Albacore tuna in the SPO, NPO and the IO are each distinct stocks and are assessed and managed separately (see Albacore Tuna Biology).

    The status of an albacore tuna stock is challenging to assess because each stock is harvested by several different fishing gears, over a wide geographic area with each gear type tending to catch fish of a different size range. Fleets fishing in different areas and seasons also tend to catch different size ranges of fish. For each stock, the assessments use data for all fisheries on the stock, a fishery being defined by gear type, fishing method and region.

    Fisheries catch data for albacore tuna assessments have several shortcomings. In particular, historical catch data either consist of small samples of fish sizes and numbers and, for some fisheries, data from earlier periods are completely lacking. For some gear types, such as gillnets and those used in artisanal fishing, current reporting of catch and effort is limited.

    SOUTH PACIFIC OCEAN

    For SPO albacore tuna, stock assessment and data management services are provided by the Oceanic Fisheries Programme of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and reviewed by the Scientific Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Council (WCPFC). Data from the Eastern Pacific Ocean are made available by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). The Scientific Advisory Committee of the ISSF takes into consideration the WCPFC stock assessments, plus other reliable information, in making its sustainability assessments of stock abundance, fishing mortality and environment.

    The albacore tuna stock assessments are based on catch, effort, fish size and tagging data from 30 component fisheries that are defined by gear, fishing method and area and comprise 26 separate longline fisheries, two driftnet fisheries, and two troll fisheries. Longline fisheries produce most of the catch. The longline fisheries consist of: i) Japanese, Korean and Chinese Taipei longline vessels operating in each of the four western and central regions (i.e. 12 fisheries), ii) domestic fleets from Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Samoa and American Samoa combined, and Tonga (i.e. 6 fisheries), iii) Australia’s domestic fishery in two regions (i.e. 2 fisheries), and iv) the remaining longline fisheries from all six regions (i.e. 6 fisheries). Troll and driftnet fisheries are defined for the south western and south central regions of the SPO albacore tuna assessment area (i.e., 4 fisheries).

    The SPO albacore tuna stock assessment is complemented by analyses that consider the standardization of longline catch and effort data used to calculate indices of abundance, information on size and reproductive output of female albacore, and estimates of fish growth that are particularly important to the assessment results. In the SPO, the albacore tuna stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. The estimate of MSY is 99,000 t; the SPO albacore tuna catch in recent years has been around 83,000 t.

    Over the past five years, longline fishing effort in the SPO and albacore catches both have increased greatly. Much of the increase has been from vessels subsidised by their flag state. While the overall biological condition of the stock remains at an acceptable level, catch rates have been negatively impacted to the point where less efficient vessels, and those not benefiting from state subsidies, are no longer profitable. Since longline fishing selects the oldest fish in the stock, this portion of the age structure has been depleted more than the spawning biomass or the total biomass. This has contributed to the reduced size of albacore tuna landed and reduced longline catch rates, and also contributed to the economic problems that many of the longline fisheries targeting albacore are now facing. If effort continues to increase, it is likely that further decreases in the older portion of the stock taken by longline fishing will occur and catch rates will continue to decline.

    Within the EEZs of SPO countries, a strong factor reducing the average size of albacore tuna landed is the increase in domestic fleets and total longline effort in the EEZs of the countries. This impact outweighs the effects of oceanographic and recruitment variation.

    NORTH PACIFIC OCEAN

    For NPO albacore tuna, stock assessment and data management services are provided by the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC). The stock assessment of NPO albacore tuna is conducted by the ISC Albacore Working Group, with the assistance of scientists from the International Pacific Halibut Commission and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). The ISC stock assessment report is discussed by the Scientific Committee of the WCPFC. The Scientific Advisory Committee of the ISSF takes into consideration the ISC stock assessments, plus other reliable information, in making its sustainability assessments of stock abundance, fishing mortality and environment.

    The NPO albacore tuna catch is taken by longlines (40%), pole and line (34%), trolling (25%) and a small amount is also taken by purse seine. The albacore stock assessments are based on catch, effort, and fish size data provided by the ISC countries (Canada, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea, and USA) and certain Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) and Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) member countries. The Japan pole-and-line (PL) and longline (LL) abundance indices are used in stock assessment models because these have been found to best represent the trends in juvenile and adult abundance; sex-specific growth curves are also used in the models.

    In the NPO, the albacore stock is not overfished but concern has been expressed over the possibility of overfishing in the near future, in the absence of defined reference points such as MSY, and of conservation and management measures. Historically, the stock experienced a long decline from the early 1970s to about 1990, then a recovery in the 1990s and fluctuations in the 2000s due to climate and recruitment variation. The current catch levels are around 80,000 t, with fluctuations.

    INDIAN OCEAN

    For IO albacore tuna, the stock is assessed by the Scientific Committee of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). The Scientific Advisory Committee of the ISSF takes the IOTC stock assessments, plus other reliable information, to make their sustainability assessments of stock abundance, fishing mortality and environmental impact.

    Almost all Indian Ocean albacore catches are taken by longlines. The catches have increased substantially since the mid-2000s, although the catch estimates are considered uncertain, especially with respect to the Indonesian longline catches, which probably make up 40% of the total albacore catch.

    Some issues that are being addressed, and/or which influence the state of the stock, include: the relocation of IO fishing effort into albacore tuna grounds in order to avoid the peak of pirate attacks in the western IO; and the adjustments needed in assessments since fishing on albacore is now carried out year round, compared to the past when fishing was seasonal.

    The IO albacore tuna stock is not overfished but its spawning biomass is estimated to be at or very near to the (interim) reference point for spawning biomass at MSY – 33,000 t. Since recent catches are around 37,000 t, fishing mortality is above fishing mortality at MSY level and the stock can expect to become overfished if current trends continue. The IOTC assessment advice is that fishing mortality must be reduced by at least 20% to ensure that spawning biomass is maintained at MSY levels and that the stock does not move to an overfished state by 2020.

    FISHERIES MANAGEMENT

    The albacore tuna fisheries are managed by regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) and by national governments. As for the stock assessments, the management of albacore tuna fisheries is complicated by the mix of gears and fleets exploiting the stocks in both oceans, and problems in under-reporting of catches made by some fisheries. On the other hand, the habit of albacore tuna of travelling in single species schools with minimal mixing, and their tendency not to associate with floating objects, facilitates management of the stocks.

    The RFMOs managing the SPO and NPO albacore tuna stocks are the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). The Indian Ocean industrial fisheries are managed by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).

    The RFMOs’ are guided by scientific committees that advise on stock status, monitoring and possible management actions using their own research and additional advice provided by independent organisations. Through a series of negotiations, the RFMOs recommend Conservation and Management Measures (CMMs) aimed at securing the sustainability of all tuna stocks.

    SOUTH PACIFIC OCEAN

    The WCPFC and IATTC are responsible for international management measures for the southern Pacific albacore stock, based on advice from the Secretariat of the WCPFC Scientific Committee.

    The SPO albacore stock has been subject to a single Conservation and Management Measure mandated by the WCPFC (CMM 2010-05) but in 2014 the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) members of WCPFC pressed for a comprehensive albacore CMM, led by concerns over the decline in catch rates in their domestic albacore fisheries.

    In 2010, the WCPFC advised members, cooperating non-members and participating Territories not to increase fishing effort south of 20°S above the 2005 levels or historical (2000-2004) levels (with exceptions for Small Island Developing States within the WCPFC Convention Area). For albacore, catch and effort are limited mainly by the individual licensing policies of Pacific Island nations. Management measures applied in recreational fisheries for albacore (Australia, New Zealand) include bag and length limits.

    Regional associations are increasingly influential in tuna fisheries management: a sub-set of FFA members have created the Tokelau Arrangement, which sets out a framework for limiting albacore tuna catch within the EEZs of the Parties to specified levels. When fully implemented, the Arrangement is intended to provide a basis for overall catch limitation, including on the high seas, in the WCPO; the TVMA (Te Vaka Moana Arrangement) countries of Cook Islands, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau and Tonga), and 14 Pacific Islands countries comprising the Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association.

    NORTH PACIFIC OCEAN

    Management of fishing on the NPO albacore tuna stock is the responsibility of the WCPFC, IATTC and the national governments of the region. Stock assessment and science advice is provided to the regional fisheries management bodies by the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC). At present, specific albacore tuna management measures are not in place.

    Despite uncertainty in data and statistical analyses, albacore tuna stock in the IO are considered at risk due to the current and recent fishing levels that exceeded the fishing mortality levels for maximum sustainable yield in 2010, and that may cause further declines in biomass, productivity and catch rates in the fishery.

    INDIAN OCEAN

    Albacore tuna in the Indian Ocean are subject to several general conservation and management measures adopted by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). The IOTC has noted the uncertain outlook for albacore, agreed to take a precautionary approach to management, and develop Conservation and Management Measures to reduce fishing pressure for albacore tuna.

    AQUACULTURE

    Currently, albacore tuna are not produced in aquaculture.


     

    GUIDE TO FURTHER READING

    Note: Details of all sources are given in References below.

    For the IUCN redlist see Albacore Tuna

    For the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation Status of the Stocks Technical Report, see Reports; for SPO stock assessment overviews, see WCPFC Scientific Committee meeting reports, and Shelton Harley and others (2014); for NPO see ISC Albacore Working Group; for IO see IOTC Stock Status Dashboard.

    For certification, see Marine Stewardship Council.

    For albacore tuna stock assessment information, in addition to the above:

      • SPO: Simon Hoyle and others (2012), Peter Williams & Peter Terawasi (2014), on the decline in size of fish and the economics of the fishery see SPC (2014), Simon Hoyle & Nick Davies (2009), Simon Hoyle (2011), Peter Williams & Peter Terawasi (2014) and Brett Molony (2007).
      • NPO: see ISC (2014).
      • IO: IOTC (2012), for fishing patterns in the IO, see IOTC (2010).

    For fisheries management, refer to the relevant regional fisheries management organization sites, especially the pages providing the Conservation and Management Measures: SPO – WCPFC CMMs, especially WCPFC CMM 2010-05 (WCPFC 2010), and WCPFC (2014); NPO - WCPFC CMMs & IATTC; and IO - IOTC CMMs, and IOTC (2014).

    REFERENCES

      • Hoyle, S. 2011. Stock assessment of albacore tuna in the South Pacific Ocean. WCPFC Scientific Committee Seventh Regular Session, 9-17 August 2011, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. Paper SA-WP-06: 90 p.
      • Hoyle, S & N Davies. 2009. Stock assessment of albacore tuna in the South Pacific Ocean. WCPFC Scientific Committee, Fifth Regular Session, 10-21 August 2009, Port Vila, Vanuatu. Paper SA-WP-6: 134 p.
      • Hoyle, S, J Hampton, & N Davies. 2012. Stock assessment of albacore in the South Pacific Ocean. Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Scientific Committee Eighth Regular Session, 7-15 August 2012, Busan, Republic of Korea. Paper SA-WP-04-REV1. 123 p.
      • IOTC (Indian Ocean Tuna Commission). 2010. Report of the Thirteenth Session of the Scientific Committee. Victoria, Seychelles, 6-10 December 2010. Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, IOTC-2010-SC-R[E]. 224 p.
      • IOTC (Indian Oceasn Tuna Commission). 2012. Report of the Fourth Session of the IOTC Working Party on Temperate Tunas. Shanghai, China, 20–22 August 2012. IOTC–2012–WPTmT04–R[E]. 43 p.
      • IOTC (Indian Ocean Tuna Commission). 2014. Status of the Indian Ocean albacore (ALB: Thunnus alalunga) resource. IOTC–2014–SC17–ES01[E], 13p.
      • ISC (International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean). 2014. Stock Assessment of Albacore Tuna in the North Pacific Ocean in 2014 Report of the Albacore Working Group. 16 - 21 July 2014, Taipei, Taiwan. 131 pp.
      • ISSF (International Seafood Sustainability Foundation). 2014. ISSF Tuna Stock Status Update, 2014: Status of the world fisheries for tuna. ISSF Technical Report 2014-09. International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, Washington, D.C., USA.
      • Molony, BW. 2007. Trends in size composition of longline-caught albacore in the South Pacific. WCPFC Scientific Committee Third Regular Session, 13-24 August 2007, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. Paper SA IP-1: 46 p.
      • SPC (Secretariat for the Pacific Community). 2014. Sustainability of Pacific tuna fisheries. Policy Brief 25/2014. Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Noumea.
      • WCPFC (Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission). 2010. Conservation and management measure for South Pacific albacore. Conservation and Management Measure (CMM) 2010-05. WCPFC 7th Regular Session, 6-10 December 2010, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
      • WCPFC (Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission). 2014. Addendum to WCPFC11-2014-DP05 (FFA Members Proposal to replace CMM for South Pacific Albacore) Explanatory note on the Tokelau Arrangement. 7p.
      • Williams, P & P Terawasi. 2014. Overview of tuna fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, including economic conditions – 2013. WCPFC-SC10-2014/GN WP-1. 60p.

Production

SPECIES IMPORTANCE

to be added

FISHING METHODS

to be added

SMALL SCALE FISHERIES AND LARGE AND INDUSTRIAL SCALE FISHERIES

to be added

Western and Central Pacific Ocean

to be added

Indian Ocean

to be added

RECREATIONAL FISHING

to be added

AQUACULTURE

to be added

Supply Chains

to be added

POST HARVEST

to be added

CANNING

to be added

SALTED AND DRIED PRODUCTS

to be added

SASHIMI AND OTHER PRODUCTS

to be added

Common Market Names

to be added

Nutritional Value

to be added .

Per 100 g of raw product, <species> contains approximately:

Kilojoules  
Protein  
Cholesterol  
Sodium  
Selenium  
Total fat (oil)  
Saturated fat  
Monounsaturated fat  
Polyunsaturated fat  
Omega 3 EPA  
Omega 3 DHA  
Omega 6 AA xxx

Sources:to be added

Trade and Markets

to be added

Employment, Social Factors and Gender

to be added

FISHING

to be added 

PROCESSING FACILITIES

to be added

Environment, Climate

to be added

Effects of Fishing on Other Species

to be added

Impacts on Air and Water

to be added

Effects of Environment on <species>

to be added

Effects of Climate Change on <species>

to be added

Biology

DESCRIPTION

Albacore is a large tuna with a robust and tapered body, dark blue back and lighter blue-gray sides and abdomen. The first dorsal fin is deep yellow; the second dorsal and the anal fin are light yellow; the anal finlets are dark; and the trailing edge of the tail is white. Albacore are distinguishable from other tunas by their very long pectoral fins that reach beyond the anal fin, although in some juveniles the pectoral fins may be shorter than those in similar-sized yellowfin tuna or bigeye tuna. At any age, albacore can be distinguished from yellowfin and bigeye tuna because it lacks stripes or spots on the lower flanks and abdomen and by the white trailing edge on the tail. The deepest part of the albacore's body is near the second dorsal fin, rather than near the middle of the first dorsal fin as in other tunas.

For fish of the same size, the swim bladder of albacore tuna has greater volume than that of yellowfin tuna but is smaller than that of bigeye tuna.

ECOSYSTEM ROLE

As with the oceanic tropical tuna species (skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna), the temperate albacore tuna is near the top of the pelagic food chain, eating a wide range of prey in the water column. Therefore, changes in the population size of albacore are expected to affect the abundance of organisms lower in the food web, with immediate effects on the micronekton (e.g. smaller fish, squid and shrimp) which are their prey.

HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION

Albacore tuna is found in temperate to tropical open ocean areas of the Mediterranean Sea and Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. Their distribution extends from the surface of the ocean to a depth of 600 m. Albacore tuna does not occur over shallow coastal shelves (ocean depths less than about 50m). Juvenile albacore typically occur along oceanic fronts in surface waters, whereas adults are found deeper, up to depths of 450 - 600 m. Ocean gyres and fronts provide the major influences on their distribution.

In the Pacific Ocean, two albacore tuna stocks are recognized and managed separately; in the Indian Ocean (IO) albacore tuna is managed as a single stock.

All three albacore tuna stocks (IO, SPO and NPO) have a similar latitudinal gradient in the size distribution of fish.

The North Pacific Ocean (NPO) stock ranges from about 5oN to about 40oN.

The South Pacific Ocean (SPO) stock of albacore tuna ranges from 5°S to about 45°S. SPO adults spawn in tropical waters and by their first year the juveniles have moved south to the sub-Tropical Convergence Zone. Juveniles then disperse northwards from the Subtropical Convergence Zone, and may migrate seasonally between tropical and sub-tropical waters, with the seasonal shift in 23-28oC sea surface temperature band.

In the IO, adult albacore tuna are distributed widely from 5°N to 25°S but mature fish concentrate south of 10oS. Between 10oS and 30oS, mature, spawning, and immature fish approximately corresponded with the boundaries of the three oceanic current systems. Mature fish (larger than 14 kg) tend to live north of 10oS, spawning fish (October to March) in the center between 10oS and 30oS, and immature fish (smaller than 14 kg) south of 30S. At the higher latitudes, immature tuna begin to appear in catches when they attain 40 cm in length. For these fish, the sea surface variables (sea surface temperature (SST), chlorophyll concentration and surface salinity) are significant environmental factors affecting distribution. For mature albacore tuna, SST is significant, while for spawning albacore, the sub-surface variable temperatures at 100 m and oxygen at 200 m are significant. Spawning albacore appear to prefer oceanic waters with the thermocline below the depth of 250m, offering deep oceanic conditions. The IO albacore tuna demonstrate a north-south seasonal migration between their tropical spawning and more southerly feeding zones.

As with other tuna, the blood circulation system of albacore tuna has a heat exchanger that rapidly lessens heating and cooling rates. This enables the species to maintain muscle temperatures significantly above those of the environment and to increase both their swimming efficiency and the range of temperatures in which they can live.

Both Pacific Ocean stocks of albacore tuna exhibit highly migratory behavior for feeding and spawning. Albacore undergo extensive vertical migrations with lower oxygen concentration and temperature acting as a barrier to distribution. Fishing for albacore typically occurs in water temperatures from 13-30C. In the tropical SPO, albacore tuna display daily vertical movements, spending the nights in shallower, warmer waters above the thermocline and the days in deeper, cooler waters below the thermocline. In temperate latitudes of the SPO, albacore tuna do not show vertical movements and remain above the thermocline all the time.

GROWTH, REPRODUCTION AND DIET

NPO and SPO albacore tuna can live for more than 14 and 15 years, respectively, with significant numbers of fish reaching 10 years or more. For stock assessment purposes, IO albacore tuna are assumed to be able to live for more than 10 years. The longest period at liberty for a recaptured tagged albacore in the SPO is 11 years. The maximum size of albacore is 120 cm (SPO) and 128 cm (IO), and maximum weight about 40 kg, but specimens over 30 kg are very rare. Albacore are intermediate in size between skipjack and yellowfin tuna.

Growth is rapid in early life; juvenile fish reach 45 - 50 cm fork length in one year. Growth rate slows from age 2-4 years to about 10 cm per year. Albacore growth varies between the sexes and with longitude. Males grow larger than females.

Albacore mature between the ages of 4-6 years. In the NPO and SPO, female albacore mature from 78 cm fork length (FL). In the SPO, the age where 50% of the population is mature is 4.5 years. NPO albacore tuna are said to be mature at 5 years. In the IO, the approximate length at first maturity of albacore is 90 cm, at 4-5 years and at a weight of 13.5-14.6 kg.

Albacore spawn in the spring and summer. They are batch spawners, releasing batches of between 0.26 and 2.83 million eggs every 2.2 days, on average, in season. The eggs and larvae are pelagic.

In the SPO, spawning takes place in tropical and sub-tropical waters between approximately 10°S and 25°S from August to March, and peak spawning occurs between October and February. In the NPO, spawning occurs between March to September and peaks from April to June, taking place in the central and western Pacific between 100 to 250N. In the IO, spawning likely has a similar seasonality to that in the SPO.

Albacore tuna are opportunistic carnivores. Juvenile albacore feed on micronekton, whereas adults feed primarily on squid, sardines, anchovies and mackerel. The main predators of albacore are tunas (including larger albacore tuna), billfishes, sharks and rays. The prey of albacore tuna depends on the fish, squid, crustaceans and other organisms available where this species lives. In the SPO, albacore tuna in the tropics live on more deep-water prey, especially fish, compared to fish in temperate areas where they consume predominately crustaceans.


GUIDE TO FURTHER READING

Note: Details of all sources are given in References below.

For description of albacore tuna, see Bruce Collette & Cornelia Nauen (1983), and, on swim bladders, Arnaud Bertand and Erwan Josse (2000).

For ecosystem role, see Bruce Collette and others (2011).

For global distribution, see: Bruce Collette & Cornelia Nauen (1983), Gabriel Reygondeau and others (2012), ISSF (2014). For NPO stock distribution see ISC Albacore Working Group; for SPO stock Simon Hoyle & Nick Davies (2009), Jess Farley and others (2013a), Adam Langley & John Hampton (2005), Ashley Williams and others (2012); for IO I-Ching Chen and others (2005), Tom Nishida & Miyako Tanaka (2008).

For thermoregulation in tuna, see Patrick Lehodey and others (2011).

For migration, feeding and temperature effects: SPO Ashley Williams and others (2014), Patrick Lehodey and others (2011), and the IOTC stock status dashboard for albacore (Albacore species summary)

For size and age information: for SPO see David Wilson and others (2010), Jess Farley and others (2013b), RJ David Wells and others (2013), Simon Hoyle & Nick Davies (2009); for NPO see ISC Albacore Working Group (NPO); for global information see ISSF (2014).

For growth of the SPO albacore tuna stocks, see Simon Hoyle & Nick Davies (2009), Ashley Williams and others (2012), Simon Hoyle (2011), Jess Farley and others (2013b). For NPO and SPO, see K-S Chen and others (2010). For reproduction and maturity of NPO see K-S Chen and others (2010), RJ David Wells and others (2013); for SPO albacore tuna see Jess Farley and others (2014); and for IO see I-Ching Chen and others (2005). For spawning in NPO see K-S Chen and others (2010), (ISC Albacore Working Group), in SPO see Jess Farley and others (2013a); in IO, see I-Ching Chen and others (2005), and IOTC stock status board (Albacore species summary).

For diet and feeding see Ashley Williams and others (2014).

REFERENCES

  • Bertrand, A, F-X Bard & E Josse. 2002. Tuna food habits related to the micronekton distribution in French Polynesia. Marine Biology 140:1023-1037.
  • Chen, IC, PF Lee, & WN Tzeng. 2005. Distribution of albacore (Thunnus alalunga) in the Indian Ocean and its relation to environmental factors. Fisheries Oceanography, 14: 71–80.
  • Chen, K S, PR Crone, & CC Hsu. 2010. Reproductive biology of albacore Thunnus alalunga. Journal of Fish Biology, 77(1), 119-136.
  • Collette, BB, & CE Nauen. 1983. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 2. Scombrids of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of tunas, mackerels, bonitos and related species known to date. FAO Fisheries Synopsis 125(2):137 p. Rome: FAO.
  • Collette, BB & 32 other authors. 2011. High value and long life – double jeopardy for tunas and billfishes. Science Express Policy Forum. www.sciencemag.org, 4 p. 8-15 July 2011; Science, 333 (6040): 291-292 (and supporting online material).
  • Farley, JH, AJ Williams, NP Clear, CR Davies, & SJ Nicol. 2013a, Age estimation and validation for South Pacific albacore Thunnus alalunga. Journal of Fish Biology, 82: 1523–1544. doi: 10.1111/jfb.12077.
  • Farley, JH, AJ Williams, SD Hoyle, CR Davies, & SJ Nicol. 2013b. Reproductive Dynamics and Potential Annual Fecundity of South Pacific Albacore Tuna (Thunnus alalunga). PLoS ONE 8(4): e60577. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060577.
  • Farley, JH, SD Hoyle, JP Eveson, AJ Williams, CR Davies, & SJ Nicol. 2014. Maturity ogives for South Pacific albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga) that account for spatial and seasonal variation in the distributions of mature and immature fish. PloS one, 9(1), e83017.
  • Hoyle, S. 2011. Stock assessment of albacore tuna in the South Pacific Ocean. WCPFC Scientific Committee Seventh Regular Session, 9-17 August 2011, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. Paper SA-WP-06: 90 p.
  • Hoyle, S & N Davies. 2009. Stock assessment of albacore tuna in the South Pacific Ocean. WCPFC Scientific Committee, Fifth Regular Session, 10-21 August 2009, Port Vila, Vanuatu. Paper SA-WP-6: 134 p.
  • ISSF (International Seafood Sustainability Foundation). 2014. ISSF Tuna Stock Status Update, 2014: Status of the world fisheries for tuna. ISSF Technical Report 2014-09. International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, Washington, D.C., USA.
  • Langley, A & J Hampton. 2005. Stock assessment of albacore tuna in the South Pacific Ocean. WCPFC Scientific Committee First meeting, 8-19 August 2005, Noumea, New Caledonia. Paper SA-WP-3: 64 p.
  • Nishida, T. & M Tanaka. 2008. General reviews of Indian Ocean Albacore (Thunnus alalunga). Paper submitted to the Second Working Party on the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission Temperate Tuna Working Group (WPTMP), 1 November 2008, Bangkok, Thailand. Paper IOTC-2008-WPTe-INF03.
  • Lehodey P, J Hampton, RW Bril, S Nicol, I Senina, B Calmettes, HO Pörtner, L Bopp, T Ilyina, JD Bell & J Sibert. 2011. Vulnerability of oceanic fisheries in the tropical Pacific to climate change. pp 433-492, in JD Bell, JE Johnson & AJ Hobday (eds), Vulnerability of Tropical Pacific Fisheries and Aquaculture to Climate Change. Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Noumea, New Caledonia.
  • Reygondeau, G, O Maury, G Beaugrand, JM Fromentin, A Fonteneau & P Cury. 2012. Biogeography of tuna and billfish communities. Journal of Biogeography, 39:114-129.
  • Wells, RJD, S Kohin, SLH Teo, OE Snodgrass, & K Uosaki. 2013. Age and growth of North Pacific albacore (Thunnus alalunga): Implications for stock assessment. Fish. Res. 147: 55– 62.
  • Williams, AJ, JH Farley, SD Hoyle, CR Davies, & SJ Nicol. 2012. Spatial and sex-specific variation in growth of albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga) across the South Pacific Ocean. PLoS ONE 7(6): e39318. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039318.
  • Williams, AJ, V Allain, SJ Nicol, KJ Evans, SD Hoyle, C Dupoux, E Vourey, & J Dubosc. 2014. Vertical behavior and diet of albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga) vary with latitude in the South Pacific Ocean. Deep-Sea Research Part II Tropical Studies in Oceanography.
  • Wilson, D, A Sands, A Leatherbarrow, & S Vieira. 2010. Eastern tuna and billfish fishery. Chapter 22. In: Fishery Status Reports 2009, Bureau of Rural Resources, Canberra. p 381-410.

Links

Contributors, Reviewers

Compiler

to be added

Information Provided by the Following

  • to be added
  • to be added

Reviewers

Drafts of the presentation were reviewed by the following:

  • to be added

Photographs and Graphics

  • to be added

Funding and Support

Funding to prepare the skipjack information was provided by the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (iss-foundation.org) and the Asian Fisheries Society (www.asianfisheriessociety.org).

In-kind support has been provided by the host organizations of those who provided information and reviewed drafts.