Yellowfin Tuna


Latin name: Thunnus albacares


Common name: Tuna

  • Say No

Wild Caught

Region:
Western Commonwealth waters

Key Facts

  • Yellowfin tuna are mainly caught along the eastern coastline, with a smaller fishery operating off the west.
  • It is highly likely that the yellowfin tuna stock caught off western Australia is overfished, and international fishing pressure in the wider Indian Ocean is still set too high to allow the stock to recover. As the Australian portion of the catch is small, it is unlikely that fishing in Australian waters is driving the decline in the population.
  • Video monitoring of all fishing boats operating in the tuna fishery is a welcome advance, improving confidence in fishery log book reports.
  • Yellowfin tuna are caught on longlines that also catch endangered wildlife, such as turtles, seabirds, whales and dolphins.
  • Reports of interactions with turtles, seabirds, whales and dolphins has increased significantly in recent years, most likely as a result of the introduction of video monitoring in the fishery.

More information

  • Commonwealth Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery (66t in 2016)

Yellowfin tuna is a highly migratory species, fished throughout its range in the tropical regions of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans. More than 90% of the Australian catch of yellowfin tuna is from a fishery operating along the eastern coastline. The smaller catch from the western coastline is assessed here.

It is highly likely that the stock of yellowfin tuna caught caught off western Australia is overfished, and international fishing pressure in the wider Indian Ocean is still set too high to allow the stock to recover. As the Australian portion of the catch is small, it is unlikely that fishing in Australian waters is driving the decline in the population.

Yellowfin tuna are caught using longlines in Australian waters, which also catch a range of threatened species. In previous years, fishery observers undertook independent monitoring of the impact of fishing on endangered wildlife. Video monitoring across the fishing fleet was rolled out in 2015. This welcome advance provides high confidence in reporting of wildlife affected by the fishery.

However, video monitoring has identified that fishers were significantly under-reporting how much endangered wildlife has been killed in the fishery in the past, which means that the impact of this fishery is likely higher than previously thought.

Since cameras have been on boats the number of turtles, seabirds, whales and dolphins caught has increased. Given the relatively small scale of this fishery, it is unlikely that it is driving decline in the populations of these species, or preventing their recovery. However, it is expected that management measures are put in place to ensure that marine wildlife bycatch reduces over time.

Commonwealth marine parks, set to be established in 2018, may provide a degree of protection to endangered wildlife. However, it is notable that sectors of the tuna fishing industry sought, and may yet secure, significant reductions in the area protected from fishing in offshore western Australian waters.