Albacore tuna

Thunnus alalunga

Common Name(s)

English: Albacore, Albacore Fish, Bonito, Long-fin Tunny, Long-finned Tuna, Longfin Tuna

Low Risk

Certified to a third party environmental sustainability standard OR Stable and productive low impact fishery with precautionary management, proven effectiveness and confidence that the status will be maintained or further improved. If the stock is data deficient with stable catches.

Traditional Chinese

長鰭吞拿魚, 'Cheung Kei Tun Na Yu'

Simplified Chinese





Binchô, Binnaga


Cá ngir vây dài




Ara Lunga, Bonette, Germon, Germon Atlantiqu


Alalunga, Albacora, Atún, Atún Aleta Larga, Atún Blanco, Atún de Aleta Larga, Bonito del Norte


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Date of Assessments

July 2020 (Updated November 2021)

Peer Reviewer


Assessment Organisation

The University of Hong Kong


Fisheries targeting albacore tuna occur all year around.



  • Albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga) is found in tropical and temperate waters of all the oceans including the Mediterranean Sea, but it is not found at the surface between 10°N and 10°S. In the western Pacific range, this species extends in a broad band between 40°N and 40°S (Collette 2001). In the Atlantic, this species is widely distributed between 60°N and 50°S.
  • Albacore tend to travel in single species schools, without the level of mixing with other species seen in other tuna groups (e.g. tropical tuna). Association with floating objects is not common, as seen with tropical tunas.
  • It feeds on fish, crustaceans and squids.
  • Immature Albacore Tuna (<80 cm) generally have a sex ratio of 1:1 but males predominate in catches of mature fish. Maturity is attained at about 90–94 cm (FL) for females and 94–97 cm (FL) for males.
  • Age of first maturity is estimated to be between five and seven years (Wu and Kuo 1993, Ramon and Bailey 1996).
  • Spawning occurs at sea surface temperatures of 24°C or higher. Fecundity increases with size but there is no clear correlation between fork length and ovary weight and number of eggs. A 20 kg female may produce between two and three million eggs per season, released in at least two batches (Collette 2010).
  • Albacore is one of the smaller major commercial tuna species, reaching sizes intermediate between skipjack and yellowfin.
  • Global catch of albacore tuna in 2019 was about 34,800 tonnes. Key methods of fishing are pole and line, long-line fishing, trolling, and some purse seining.
  • There are six albacore stocks assessed and managed by the RFMOs: North Pacific Ocean, South Pacific Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean.
  • Albacore tuna are managed by four tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs); the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), and the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).
  • The management effectiveness of the RFMOs is mixed, and Illegal Unreported Unregulated (IUU) fishing remains a significant risk in many regions.
  • Small albacore are caught by trolling at the surface in cool water outside the tropics, while larger fish are caught deeper and mainly at lower latitudes (subtropical) using longline gear. Most of the catch is used for producing “white meat” canned tuna.

Pole and line

Hook and line is one of the best methods of fishing with regards to sustainability. This can involve one person and a rod, or alternatively using a basic winch with a line of hooks. The hook and line fishing method has little impact on the surrounding environment and the catch can be selective. For example, any fish too small, or not the right species can be placed back into the water, with limited harm. Problems with large-volume, yet unmanaged baitfish* fisheries are also associated with pole and line fisheries.   *See general coverage on tuna baitfisheries: Gillett, R. E. (2012). Global study of the management of baitfisheries that support pole-and-line tuna fishing SPC Fisheries Newsletter #139 - September/December 2012

Pelagic longline

Longlining, as the name suggests, involves long fishing lines which can be as long as 100 kilometres. Attached to them are shorter lines with baited hook tied at fixed intervals. Longlines can be set at different depths to catch different species. Pelagic longline is where the lines are set near the surface of the water to catch open water fish such as bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and swordfish. Bycatch is a major environmental issue in the longline fishery, especially impacting billfish, sea turtles, pelagic sharks, and seabirds. Also there are concerns about the baitfish* fisheries for the bait that is needed to catch the fish using hooks; these can be substantial and are largely unmonitored and unmanaged.

Pelagic trawl

This fishing method is where one trawl is towed in mid-water between two vessels (also known as pair trawling) to target pelagic fish. The height of the net in the water column can be changed by altering vessel speed and length of wire out. The nets can be very large as big as 240 metres wide and 160 metres deep but the mesh size in the mouth of the trawl are huge sometimes as big as 50 metres long.

Purse seine

Purse seine nets are used as walls to encircle fish. After the fish are surrounded, the bottom end of the purse seine net is pulled up and closed to form a bag that traps the fish. Schooling fish such as sardine, salmon and yellowfin tuna are caught by this method. Can be unselective, particularly if used alongside Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), where sharks, rays, turtles, dolphins and juvenile tuna can be caught.

  • Evidence from the catch certificate showing the following:
    • Latin species name,
    • country sea area / RFMO area,
    • vessel flag,
    • name of vessel,
    • Unique Vessel Identifier, such as an IMO number; note that as of 2017 vessels, including fishing vessels above 100 GT (which would include most tuna vessels) should have an IMO number. Ask supplier for a link showing the vessel identities. https://www.fao.org/global-record/background/unique-vessel-identifier/en/,
    • capture method,
    • landing port,
    • required observers onboard vessels
    • any knowledge of management of baitfish fishery that supplies target species (if pole and line or longline used) or any threatened species bycatch mitigation efforts by fishing operation
    • If pole and line / longline, is bait sourced from a fishery undergoing fisheries improvement?
  • Are the supplier vessels included in the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation ProActive Vessel Register (ISSF PVR)? Ask supplier for a link showing the vessel identities.
  • Note if you are buying from vessels that are not on the PVR – you can get suppliers to apply for PVR status: https://iss-foundation.org/knowledge-tools/public-vessel-lists/proactive-vessel-register/
  • Is your supplier a member of the Global Tuna Alliance?
If all of this evidence can be obtained, this will provide some assurance that the product has been legally caught, and that your supplier is supporting responsible tuna fishery management practices.



  • Albacore tuna caught in the North Atlantic can be considered to be a low risk.
  • Based on the latest stock assessment, the North Atlantic albacore stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring.
  • Albacore catches in the North Atlantic in 2019 were about 34,800 tonnes, a 17% increase from 2018. Catches are made by a variety of fishing gears including pole-and-line (41%), trawl (26%), longline (17%) and troll (16%).
  • Management is mainly through the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).
  • Management measures are in place, though their effectiveness is not evaluated.
  • Bycatch of Endangered Threatened and Protected species will also likely be a problem in longline fisheries.