The stocks for albacore in the south Atlantic are likely overfished and experiencing overfishing. ICCAT have reduced the TAC in line with scientific advice, yet it remains to be seen if this is adhered to as there is provision for individual quotas to exceeed this TAC. The bycatch of threatened, protected and endangered species in the lonline fisheries, particularly of albatross, is of great concern and improved monitoring is required. Due to the low levels of discard and bycatch, the surface fisheries (troll and pole & line) are the best choices.
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.
Albacore stocks in the Atlantic are assessed by ICCAT - the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. The latest stock assessment of South Atlantic albacore was conducted in 2011 and including catch, effort and size data up until 2009. There was considerable uncertainty in the data available for assessments, so a wide range of scenarios were modelled. The median MSY value was 27,964 t (ranging between 23,296 t and 98,371 t) and the median estimate of current B/Bmsy was 0.88 (ranging between 0.55 and 1.59Bmsy) and the median estimate of current F/Fmsy was 1.07 (ranging between 0.44 and 1.95Fmsy) - the wide ranges demonstrating the high uncertainty. Results indicate that the South Atlantic albacore stock is 'probably' both overfished and experiencing overfishing. The 2008-2011 TAC for the South Atlantic albacore stock had been set at 29,900 tonnes. In 2011, following scientific advice, the TAC was lowered to 24,000 tonnes. Under this TAC there is more than 50% probability to recover the stock in 5 years, and more than a 60% probability to do so in 10 years. Permissible catch under the TAC can exceed 24,000 t by a considerable amount due to individual allocations. New measures include provisions to reduce future catch limits if the TAC is exceeded, and requires major fishing countries to submit semi-annual catch reports in order to prevent overharvests. In addition, carry-overs of underharvests are no longer allowed. Recent research from across the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific suggests that fluctuations in enviornmental conditions may have dramatic impacts on the temporal and spatial distribution of albacore populations.
The recent total annual South Atlantic albacore landings were largely attributed to four fisheries, namely the surface baitboat fleets of South Africa and Namibia, and the longline fleets of Brazil and Chinese Taipei. The surface fleets are entirely albacore directed and mainly catch juvenile and subadult fish (70 cm to 90 cm FL). On average, the longline vessels catch larger albacore (60 cm to 120 cm FL) than the surface fleets. 68% of the catch is made by longlining and 27% by pole&line, troll & jig bait boats. Several mitigation measures are in place to reduce bycatch of sharks, turtles and seabirds in the longline fisheries yet monitoring is deficient. According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) 17 of the 22 albatross species are threatened with extinction, largely because of longlining. See http://www.rspb.org.uk/supporting/campaigns/albatross/ for more info. Pole & line and troll & jig boats are more labour intensive yet far more selective than longlining.
ICCAT, 2012. Atlantic albacore executive summary report 2012-13. Available at
http://www.iccat.int/Documents/SCRS/ExecSum/ALB_EN.pdf [Accessed Dec 2012].
ICCAT SCRS, 2010. Report of the 2011 ICCAT South Atlantic and Mediterranean albacore stock assessment sessions. July 25 to 29, 2011, Madrid, Spain. Available at http://www.iccat.int/Documents/Meetings/Docs/2011_ALB_ASSESS_EN.pdf [Accessed Dec 2012].
International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, 2011. Albacore: South Atlantic Ocean. Available at http://iss-foundation.org/science/status-of-the-stocks/ [Accessed Dec2012].
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.
Marine Conservation Society
Company Limited by Guarantee No. 2550966
Registered Charity England and Wales No. 1004005 |
Scotland No. SC037480
Registered Office: Unit 3, Wolf Business Park, Alton Road,
Ross on Wye HR9 5NB, Scottish office: 11A Chester Street, Edinburgh, EH3 7RF.
Copyright MCS 2012 All rights reserved.
MCS is a member of Oceans 2012, a coalition dedicated to ensuring that the 2012 reform of the Common Fisheries Policy stops overfishing, ends distructive fishing practices and delivers fair and equitable use of healthy fish stocks