Atlantic Bluefin Tuna - Thunnus thynnus
Status: Endangered … The most ambitiously migratory of all fish
Location: North Atlantic, from Europe in the East including the Mediterranean, to America in the West.
Size: Averages 2 - 2.5m long but can grow over 4m in length, weigh over 600kg and live for 40 years!
Habitat: Open ocean.
Main Threats: Bluefin tuna have been on the menu for centuries. However, in the 1970’s, demand and prices for bluefin tuna soured, particularly in Japan. As a result, commercial fishing operations found new ways to find and catch these sleek giants.
This consumer demand, particularly in Japanese sashimi markets, has led to severe overfishing in both the Eastern and Western Atlantic. This species is mainly caught in purse-seines, longlines and fixed net traps. Regulation of fisheries aimed at conservation has included quotas and time closure for fishing activities but many conservation measures are not fully enforced and illegal catch continues. Commercial fishing has drastically reduced the populations and range of bluefin tuna and it is imperative that recent improvements to management are bolstered to allow this incredible species to recover.
Atlantic (or Northern) bluefin tuna are a vulnerable, slow growing and long lived species that are heavily exploited across their range. The market value of individual fish regularly reaches tens of thousands of pounds with the record being over a million pounds for just one fish in 2013. This is a strong incentive for illegal fishing which has been extensive in the past. Fisheries management has improved for the three bluefin species (Atlantic, Southern and Pacific bluefin) in recent years, yet these improvements will not be reflected in the health of stocks for many years. Whilst Atlantic bluefin are listed by the IUCN as Endangered; Pacific bluefin are at historical lowest levels; and Southern bluefin are listed as Critically Endangered.
Avoid buying all Atlantic Bluefin tuna (farmed or wild caught).
Did you know?
- The average weight has halved since the 1970’s.
- They can dive to depths of 3,280 feet.
- Tagged fish have been tracked swimming from North America to European waters several times a year.
What MCS is doing:
- Working with the fishing industry, government, chefs and restaurants, consumers and retailers to promote sustainable seafood;
- Advising seafood businesses and consumers to avoid buying bluefin tuna (wild or farmed), and instead buy alternatives like yellowfin and bigeye tuna, through FishOnline and the Pocket Good Fish Guide.