Scientific name: Thunnus alalunga
Other names: Bonito, langvin tuna, long-finned tuna
Description: Albacore tuna have torpedo-shaped bodies with dark metallic blue backs, and silver on the sides and belly. The first dorsal fin is dark yellow and the second dorsal fin is pale yellow. They have very long pectoral fins and a crescent-shaped, deeply forked tail. Albacore tuna is often confused with juvenile bigeye tuna.
Size (length and weight): Up to about 1.2 metres in length and 55 kg. Commonly found at 50‑90 cm in length and 3‑22 kg.
Life span: Up to 13 years.
Habitat: Albacore tuna occur throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Albacore tuna are highly migratory and travel long distances. They are a pelagic species that can be found to depths of 200 metres. Albacore tuna tend to school by size, as well as with other tuna species. Schools may also occur in association with floating objects. Juveniles tend to school in shallower waters than adults.
Prey: Prey opportunistically on small fish, squid, and planktonic crustaceans.
Predators: Marine mammals, billfish, sharks and seabirds feed on tuna at various stages of the tuna’s life cycle.
Reproduction: Most albacore tuna reach reproductive maturity at 5-7 years of age. Spawning occurs in small aggregations during the summer. The peak spawning period in the southern hemisphere occurs in summer. Eggs are released in at least two batches. Females produce 2‑3 million eggs per season depending on their body size.
Other notes: Albacore tuna are classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
|Fishery found in||Gear used||Catch of this species is targeted or incidental|
|Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery||Pelagic longline||Targeted|
|Recreational and other countries||Various||Targeted and incidental|
Management of catch
The Commonwealth catch of albacore tuna is managed by quota. Which means the catch of this fish by commercial fishers is restricted by weight. AFMA also restricts the type of gear that can be used to fish for albacore tuna.
Commercial fishermen are required to fill in records of their catches, during each fishing trip and when they land their catch in a port. This helps us keep records of how much is being caught.
AFMA decide on the amount that can be caught each year from expert advice and recommendations from fisheries managers, industry members, scientist and researchers.
Albacore tuna is a highly mobile species that is caught by many countries. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission are responsible for managing the world’s tropical tuna catch.
Each commission meets annually to review the latest scientific information and to set global catch limits for key tuna species such as albacore tuna. They also specify what each member country must do to manage their catch of the tropical tuna species, such as carrying observers, sharing fishing information and tracking fishing vessels by satellite.
When managing the Australian catch of albacore tuna, AFMA has to follow the decisions made by both commissions.
Albacore tuna is a highly migratory species, swimming continuously over large distances. They are found commonly in eastern Australian waters, but they are also found in the waters of other countries within the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
In Australia, albacore tuna are caught anywhere along the east coast and is a targeted species by fishers in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery. Albacore tuna is a tropical tuna species and prefers warmer oceanic waters.
Albacore tuna is also sometimes caught recreationally off Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. These recreational catches are managed by the state governments.
Fishing gear and environmental impacts
There are generally low levels of bycatch, or other species, caught in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery, but some sharks, seabirds and other species may be caught when fishing for albacore tuna using longline gear.
Pelagic longline fishing has minimal impact on the marine environment as they hang in the water column not touching the seafloor. Sometimes seabirds, turtles and sharks are caught accidentally. The capture of these species is monitored by on-board AFMA observers and any interactions with these species must be reported to AFMA and the Department of the Environment. In recent years, AFMA in conjunction with the Department of the Environment and the fishing industry have worked hard to reduce seabird interactions with longline gear.
Ecological risk assessments are done for the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery and all other fisheries to find out if the fishing of albacore tuna is harming other species. The most recent assessment was done in 2009 and the risk to other species was assessed as low.