Yellowfin Tuna

(Thunnus albacares)

Yellowfin tuna, Yellowfin tunny, Geelvin tuna, Geelvin-tuna

1. What is it?

Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) are relatively long-lived, migratory fish found in open waters that often form mixed schools with other species of tuna. It is highly valued for sashimi and therefore often served in restaurants. Atlantic Ocean yellowfin tuna are considered overfished as biomass is below sustainable levels. Fishing pressure is currently at sustainable levels but there are concerns that it is increasing to levels that are not sustainable. Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna is considered to be overexploited and undergoing overfishing as fishing pressure is above sustainable levels.

2. How was it caught or farmed?

Pole and Line – Atlantic Ocean (South African catches only)

Yellowfin tuna are caught using pole fishing or polling. In this type of fishing, rigid poles (2-3 meters) are attached to a feathered jig containing a barbless hook attached by a short piece of line Pole and line is a highly selective fishing method with low bycatch and discard rates and no negative impact on the benthic habitat or surrounding environment. Bycatch in the South African fishery tends to consist of other species of tuna, yellowtail or snoek.

Pelagic longlines (South Africa)

Yellowfin tuna mainly caught in the South African pelagic longline fishery in both the Atlantic and Indian Ocean. Pelagic longlines consists of a double-line system suspended at different depths covered in baited hooks and which are several kilometers long. Bycatch is a significant issue in the fishery. Specifically, bycatch of seabirds, fish, sharks and turtles as many of these species are considered to endangered, threatened or protected (ETP) species. Catches of sharks by the fishery in recent years have increased substantially, with sharks making up almost 50% of the catch in 2014.

3. Where is it from?

Pole and Line – Atlantic Ocean (South African catches only)

Yellowfin tuna is caught in the open waters of the Indian Ocean. Due to its migratory nature and gloabal demand, yellowfin tuna are managed by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs). The Atlantic Ocean component is managed by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas ( ICCAT). Member countries or co-operating non-member countries are then responsible for ensuring the implementation and adaptation of the recommended quotas and regulations. Effectiveness of the management of the Atlantic Ocean component is largely unknown due to a number of uncertainties surrounding the stock status and possible increases in fishing effort. Management in South Africa is considered to be largely effective.

Pelagic longlines (South Africa)

Yellowfin tuna is harvested by South Africa in the Indian Ocean and occasionally from the Atlantic Ocean. Due to its migratory nature and demand, yellowfin tuna are managed by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs). The Atlantic Ocean component is managed by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas ( ICCAT) whilst the Indian Ocean component is managed by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission ( IOTC). Member countries or co-operating non-member countries are then responsible for ensuring the implementation and adaptation of the recommended quotas and regulations. Management effectiveness of the Atlantic Ocean component is largely uncertain whilst management effectiveness of the Indian Ocean component is largely ineffective. Management in South Africa is considered to be partly effective due to concerns surrounding the management of bycatch species.