The stock is currently overfished and overfishing is likley to be marginally occurring based on 2007 data. It should be noted though that reported catches been repeatedly below the TAC in recent years. Additional regualtion is needed to ensure catches are maintained below the recommended TAC and improved monitoring and reporting will also assist future assessments. The primary component of the catch is taken in low impact troll fisheries, however a significant propotion is also taken in longline and pelagic trawl fisheries that are associated with bycatach of vulnerable species.
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.
Atlantic tuna stocks are assessed by ICCAT - the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. The most recent assessment was undertaken in 2009. Data sets f from 1930 to 2007 were compiled during the 2009 stock assessment meeting. This assessment indicated that assessment indicated that the stock has remained below Bmsy (current SSB2007 is approximately 62% of SSB at MSY) since the late 60's. Corresponding fishing mortality rates have been above Fmsy (current F2007/FMSY ratio is 1.05 which is only slightly higher than Fmsy) . In 2011, the Commission established a TAC for 2012 and 2013 of 28,000 t, but included several provisions that allow the catch to exceed this level. Projections based on the 2009 assessment indicate that constant catches above 28,000 t will not result in stock rebuilding to Convention standards by 2020. Since 2008 catches have been lower than 28,000 t (19,995t in 2011).
North Atlantic stocks are mostly exploited by surface trolling (29%), pelagic trawling (18%) and pelagic longlining (16%). Adults are mainly caught using longlines and juveniles by surface methods. Trolling is a very selective method of fishing and has minimal impact on bycatch species. Both longlining and pelagic trawls can capture high proportions of vulnerable sharks, turtles and sea birds. The fishery needs improved regulation, better monitoring and reporting.
ICCAT, 2012. Atlantic albacore executive summary report 2012-13. Available at
http://www.iccat.int/Documents/SCRS/ExecSum/ALB_EN.pdf [Accessed Dec 2012].
International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, 2011. Albacore: North Atlantic Ocean. Available at http://iss-foundation.org/science/status-of-the-stocks/ [Accessed Dec 2012].
IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on December 2012.
(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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