Scientific name: Thunnus albacares
Other names: Yellow-finned albacore, Pacific long-tailed tuna, Allison’s tuna
Description: Yellowfin tuna have torpedo-shaped bodies with dark metallic blue backs, yellow sides, and a silver belly. They have very long anal and dorsal fins that are bright yellow, as are their finlets.
Size (length and weight): Up to 2.1 metres in length and 200 kg. Commonly found at 50‑90 cm in length and 100 kg.
Life span: Up to about 7 years.
Habitat: Yellowfin tuna are found throughout the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Yellowfin tuna are highly migratory and travel long distances. They are a pelagic species that can be found to depths of 250 metres. Yellowfin tend to school by size, as well as with other tuna species. Schools may also occur in association with floating objects. Juveniles form schools with skipjack tuna and juvenile bigeye tuna in shallow waters.
Prey: Fish, squid, and crustaceans.
Predators: Marine mammals, billfish and other fish, sharks and seabirds feed on tuna at various states of the tuna’s life cycle.
Reproduction: Most yellowfin tuna reach reproductive maturity at 2 years of age. Spawning occurs throughout the year in tropical waters and seasonally in subtropical waters. The peak spawning period in the southern hemisphere occurs in summer. In tropical waters females spawn almost daily. Spawning occurs almost entirely at night. Females can produce over 0.2‑8 million eggs per spawning event depending on their body size.
Other notes: Yellowfin 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|
|Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery||Pelagic longline||Targeted|
|Recreational and other countries||Various||Targeted and incidental|
Management of catch
The Australian catch of yellowfin tuna is managed by quota. This means that 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 yellowfin 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 AFMA keep records of how much is being caught.
AFMA decides on the amount that can be caught each year from expert advice and recommendations from fisheries managers, industry members, scientist and researchers.
Yellowfin 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.
These commissions meet every year to review the latest scientific information and to set global catch limits for key tuna species such as yellowfin 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 yellowfin tuna, AFMA has to follow the decisions made by both commissions.
Yellowfin tuna is a highly migratory species, swimming continuously over large distances. They are usually found in eastern and western Australian waters, but are also found in the waters of other countries within the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
In Australia, Yellowfin tuna are caught along both the east and west coasts and is a targeted species by fishers in both the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery and the Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery.
Yellowfin tuna is also caught recreationally off Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. These recreational catches are managed by the state governments.
Fishing gear and environmental impacts
Pelagic longline is the main gear used to catch yellowfin tuna, but sometimes minor line gear is also used.
Sometimes other marine species, such as other fish, seabirds and sharks, are accidentally caught when fishing for yellowfin tuna. This is called bycatch. Fishers have to follow a number of rules to reduce bycatch, and scientists and managers monitor bycatch in all fisheries with logbooks and vessel observer programs.
There are 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 yellowfin tuna using longline gear.