Tuna, Albacore (MSC Certified)
Scientific namesThunnus alalunga
Other namesLongfin tuna, Albacore, Langvin tunny
Area of capturePacific Ocean
Fishing methodTuna pole and trolling
SummaryAlbacore tuna are highly migratory and found in all oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. There are two distinct stocks in the Pacific Ocean, in the northern and in the southern. Albacore are resilient to fishing pressure due to their high growth rate, early maturity and high fecundity. At the last annual surveillance (September 2009), and based on the best available science, the North Pacific albacore stock was determined to be at high abundance. Stock biomass is well above precautionary limits, and fishing pressure is well below levels likely to cause overfishing.
Both fishing methods (trolling and tuna pole) are particularly ‘clean’ methods that catch one fish at a time; trolling involves towing artificial lures with barbless hooks, while tuna pole vessels locate albacore schools, and then fishers catch fish individually using a solid pole with a short line and single barbless hook. Bycatch of non-target species is relatively rare and barbless hooks allow rapid and effective release of any bycatch species. No significant impacts on protected or endangered species have been identified. Discards are low, as fishers avoid schools of small sized fish due to lower prices. Pole-and-line fishing in the North Pacific uses anchovy for chum or bait. Anchovy catches are monitored, and assessments indicate that Northern anchovy stocks are healthy.
International management of Pacific albacore is shared between the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission and the Western and Central Pacific Ocean Fisheries Commission. Working groups of these Commissions conduct scientific stock assessments and co-ordinate research programmes. Implementation of Commission regulatory mechanisms occurs in the US through the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which has developed a Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (HMS FMP). Both Commissions have adopted a formalised precautionary approach to management.
Although specific precautionary control rules for albacore are currently in the process of being developed, there has recently been a limit put on effort for Northern albacore as a precautionary response to the scientific advice that the stock is approaching full exploitation. Neither stock is not overfished, thus there is no need for a recovery plan. Maintaining fishing effort at current levels through the cap on effort in the North Pacific fishery is likely to ensure that the stock is not depleted below sustainable levels.
For more information about this fishery have a look at the Marine Stewardship Council`s website, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.