Whilst biomass reference points (relating to MSY) have not been established for the North Pacific albacore fisheries, the current stock status meets the internationally agreed objective to not allow stocks to fall below the average of the 10 worst historical levels. Biomass has been quite stable in recent years, and whilst the fisheries were believed to be subject to overfishing, they are not currently. Longline fisheries have high conservation risks due to bycatch and discards of commercial and non-commercial species. Management is only partially effective, as bycatch and discards are a problem in the longline fishery and overfishing could be occurring. Increase the sustainability of the fish you choose from this area by choosing pole & line or troll caught tuna, as these methods have the least bycatch and are more labour intensive methods of fishing. Look for Marine Stewardship Council certified sustainable troll & jig or pole & line caught albacore tuna from the North Pacific.
Tuna belong to the family Scombridae. They are large, oceanic fish and are seasonally migratory, some making trans-oceanic journeys. Albacore are found throughout the world's temperate, sub-tropical and tropical oceans, although they are less common in the tropics. They are found from the surface to a depth of 600m where they often form mixed schools with skipjack, yellowfin and bluefin tuna. They grow more slowly than skipjack and yellowfin tuna, reaching a maximum size of 140cm, 60kg in weight and maximum age of 15 years. Albacore mature when about 90cm length and 4-5 years old. Spawning normally occurs between January and July.
Pacific tuna fisheries are assessed by IATTC - Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission, the SCTB - Steering Committee on Tuna and Billfish, the WCPFC - Western and Central Pacific Fishery Commission and relevant national fisheries departments. The last stock assessment for North Pacific albacore tuna was undertaken in 2011. Biomass reference points have not been established for this fishery due to a lack of long-term data available. However, the Northern Committee of the WCPFC established an interim management objective for North Pacific albacore in 2008. The objective is to maintain the spawning stock biomass (SSB) above the average of the ten historically lowest estimated points (ATHL) with a probability greater than 50%. Results of the latest assessment indicate that this pbjective is being achieved. The SSB is estimated to be at the historical median and, based on catch rates in recent years, the SSB is expected to remain at this level, assuming the average recruitment and recently observed fishing effort is maintained. Overfishing was believed to be occurring in previous years, yet the imposition of catch quotas in 2009 and adherence to these has improved this. The 2011 assessment indicates that overfishing is not currently occurring.
Trolling for albacore consists of towing artificial lures with barbless hooks, ?trolls?, behind a fishing vessel at a speed of about 6 knots. If fishers see or feel a tuna on a line they pull it in. Trolling brings fish to the surface and helps to locate schools of albacore. The vessel stops near the school, and fishers keep the school close by throwing small amounts of live fish chum, often anchovy.
In pole-and-line fishing, individual fishers use a stout pole, formerly constructed of bamboo and now made of fibreglass or a high-technology composite, with a short line that has a single barbless hook with either an artificial lure or live bait.
Fishers may use one or both of these methods together for harvesting. Both are notably ?clean? fishing methods that catch one fish at a time. The absence of nets in both methods ensures the fishery is ?dolphin free?.
(Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 3 and below are included.)
Read what the consumer pages of the Good Fish Guide say about this species.
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