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Bluefin Tuna

PC265thunnusthynnusOrigin – Vietnam, Pacific Islands

  • Presentation – Fillets, Loins, Saku, Steaks

Fisheries

Tuna is an important commercial fish. Some varieties, such as bluefin and bigeye tuna, are threatened by overfishing, which dramatically affects Atlantic and northwestern Pacific Ocean populations. Other areas seem to support fairly healthy populations—for example, the central and western Pacific skipjack tuna, out there is mounting evidence that overexploitation threatens populations worldwide. The Australian government alleged in 2006 that Japan had illegally over fished southern bluefin by taking 12,000 to 20,000 tonnes per year instead of the their agreed 6,000 tonnes; the value of such overfishing would be as much as USD $2 billion. Such overfishing has severely damaged stocks.  According to the WWF Japan’s huge appetite for tuna will take the most sought-after stocks to the brink of commercial extinction unless fisheries agree on more rigid quotas”.

According to the Foodmarket Exchange, the total tuna catch was 3,605,000 tons in 2000, down about 5.7 percent from 3,823,000 tons in 1999. The main tuna fishing nations are concentrated in Asia, with Japan and Taiwan floating the main fleets. Other important producers in Asia are Indonesia and South Korea, Spain and France are also important producers, with their ships fishing primarily in the Indian Ocean. In southeast Asia, the southern Phillipines is an important area, particularly General Santos City and Davao.

Japan remains the main tuna producer in the Pacific. In 2000, Japanese vessels landed 633,000 tons, about 17 percent of the world catch. Taiwan was the second biggest producer at 435,000 tons, or about 12 percent of the world’s total catch. Spain supplies most of the yellowfin to European canneries, accounting for 5.9 percent of the total catch, while Ecuador and Mexico dominate the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Aquaculture

Increasing quantities of high-grade tuna are reared in net pens and fed bait fish. In Australia, former fishermen raise southern bluefin tuna, Thunnus maccoyii, and another bluefin species. Farming its close relative, the northern bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus, is beginning in the Mediterranean, North America and Japan. Hawaii recently approved permits for the first U.S. offshore farming of bigeye tuna in water 1,300 feet (400 m) deep.