*

Albacore

Thunnus alalunga

  • Ashley Williams (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)
  • Heather Patterson (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)
Toggle content

Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Commonwealth Indian Ocean IOTC, WTBF Sustainable Spawning stock biomass, fishing mortality
Commonwealth South Pacific Ocean ETBF, WCPFC Sustainable Spawning stock biomass, fishing mortality
ETBF
Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery (CTH)
IOTC
Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (CTH)
WCPFC
Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (CTH)
WTBF
Western Tuna Billfish Fishery (CTH)
Toggle content

Stock Structure

Albacore in the Indian and Pacific Oceans are considered to be two separate biological stocks and are managed under separate regional fisheries management organisations. Genetic work has indicated that Albacore from the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean are genetically indistinguishable1, possibly due to some degree of mixing in the waters off South Africa. Albacore migrate within ocean basins in association with oceanic gyres. Given that the Indian Ocean contains only a single oceanic gyre, a single stock of Albacore is assumed for the Indian Ocean assessments2. In the Pacific Ocean, North Pacific and South Pacific stocks are assumed to occur, associated with the two oceanic gyres in the Pacific Ocean. These stocks that are assessed separately3,4.

The Indian Ocean biological stock falls under the jurisdiction of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission; and the South Pacific Ocean stock falls under the jurisdiction of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. These two commissions are intergovernmental organisations established to manage a number of highly migratory fish species.

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the biological stock level—Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean.

Toggle content

Stock Status

Data for the Indian Ocean assessments used for management advice (multiple assessments were undertaken) were from 1950 to 20122,5; data for the South Pacific Ocean assessment were from 1960 to 20136.

Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean biological stock is fished by Australian fishers endorsed to fish in the Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery (Commonwealth), as well as vessels from numerous other international jurisdictions. The assessments undertaken by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission take into account information from all jurisdictions.

In the Indian Ocean, the most recent assessments7 estimate that spawning biomass in 2012 was 21–43 per cent of the 1950 (assumed unfished) level. The biological stock is not considered to be recruitment overfished8. This assessment estimated that fishing mortality in 2012 was at or below the level that would produce maximum sustainable yield (MSY) (69–94 per cent of fishing mortality at MSY). This level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the biological stock to become recruitment overfished8.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Indian Ocean biological stock is classified as a sustainable stock.

South Pacific Ocean

The South Pacific Ocean biological stock is fished by Australian fishers endorsed to fish in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery (Commonwealth), as well as vessels from numerous other international jurisdictions. The assessments undertaken for the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission take into account information from all jurisdictions.

In the South Pacific Ocean, the most recent assessment9 estimates that spawning biomass in 2013 was 30–60 per cent of unfished biomass. The biological stock is therefore not considered to be recruitment overfished10. The assessment estimated fishing mortality (2009–12 average) to be below the level that would produce maximum sustainable yield (13–62 per cent of fishing mortality at MSY). This level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the biological stock to become recruitment overfished9.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the South Pacific Ocean biological stock is classified as a sustainable stock.

Toggle content

Biology

Albacore biology11–13

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Albacore 14+ years; ~1270 mm FL 4.5 years; ~870 mm FL
Toggle content

Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Albacore

Toggle content

Tables

Fishing methods
Commonwealth
Commercial
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Pelagic Longline
Pole and Line
Trolling
Gillnet
Purse Seine
Various
Recreational
Spearfishing
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Management methods
Method Commonwealth
Commercial
Area restrictions
Catch limits
Gear restrictions
Individual transferable quota
Limited entry
Recreational
Bag limits
Active vessels
Commonwealth
40 in ETBF, 2 in WTBF
ETBF
Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery (CTH)
WTBF
Western Tuna Billfish Fishery (CTH)
Catch
Commonwealth
Commercial 949.00t in ETBF, 35.01Kt in IOTC, 68.31Kt in WCPFC, 27.00t in WTBF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational Unknown
ETBF
Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery (CTH)
IOTC
Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (CTH)
WCPFC
Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (CTH)
WTBF
Western Tuna Billfish Fishery (CTH)

a Commonweath – Recreational The Australian Government does not manage recreational fishing in Commonwealth waters. Recreational fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the state or territory immediately adjacent to those waters, under its management regulations.
b Commonweath – Recreational and Indigenous Recreational and Indigenous fishing sectors in the Indian Ocean are South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia. Recreational sectors in the Pacific Ocean are New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania. A tick indicates that a measure exists in at least one of these jurisdictions.
c Commonwealth – Indigenous The Australian Government does not manage non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters, with the exception of the Torres Strait. In general, non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the state or territory immediately adjacent to those waters.
d Commonwealth – Commercial (catch) Catches reported for the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission are for 2014, the most recent year available.
e Commonwealth – Commercial (catch) WCPFC catches are for the entire South Pacific Ocean (south of the equator).

Toggle content

Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Albacorea

Toggle content

Effects of fishing on the marine environment

  • Following completion of ecological risk assessments (levels 1–3) in the Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery (Commonwealth) (WTBF), no species were identified as high risk14. In the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery (Commonwealth) (ETBF), a combined total of nine species were identified as being at high risk or precautionary high risk. This is the priority list of species for attention under the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery ecological risk management strategy; it includes two species of sunfish, four species of shark, two species of cetacean and one species of marine turtle15,16.
  • No target species, ecological communities or habitats were assessed to be at high risk from the effects of fishing in the ETBF or the WTBF1416.
  • Australia implements regulations to minimise the environmental impact of fisheries for tuna and tuna-like species on pelagic ecosystems; specifically, on seabirds, sea turtles and sharks17,18.
  • Australia has prohibited shark finning in longline fisheries managed by the Commonwealth and has also prohibited the use of wire leaders to reduce fishing mortality of sharks17,18.
  • Both the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission19 and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission20 have passed conservation and management measures that are broadly consistent with each other and with Australia’s domestic management arrangements.
Toggle content

Environmental effects on Albacore

  • The distribution and abundance of Albacore are known to be affected by environmental factors21,22, particularly ocean temperatures and changes in ocean circulatory patterns. Seasonal changes in the abundance of Albacore in the central and western Pacific Ocean are linked to variations in suitable habitat and prey availability, which are driven by local environmental variability and large-scale climate variability, such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the El Niño Southern Oscillation23,24.
Toggle content

References

  1. 1 Montes, I, Iriondo, M, Manzano, C, Arrizabalaga, H, Jiménez, E, Angel Pardo, M, Goni, N, Davies, CA and Estonba, A 2012, Worldwide genetic structure of albacore Thunnus alalunga revealed by microsatellite DNA markers, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 471: 183–191.
  2. 2 Hoyle, SD, Sharma, R and Herrera, M 2014, Stock assessment of albacore tuna in the Indian Ocean for 2014 using Stock Synthesis, working paper IOTC-2014-WPTmT05-24_Rev1, Indian Ocean Tuna Commission 5th Working Party on Temperate Tunas, Busan, South Korea, 28–31 July 2014.
  3. 3 Murray, T 1994, A review of the biology and fisheries for albacore, Thunnus alalunga, in the South Pacific Ocean, in RS Shomura, J Majkowski and S Langi (ed.s), Interactions of Pacific tuna fisheries, FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 336/2, pp 188–206.
  4. 4 Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission 2015, Summary report of the eleventh regular session of the Scientific Committee for the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, 5–13 August 2015.
  5. 5 Matsumoto, T, Nishida, T and Kitakado, T 2014, Stock and risk assessments of albacore in the Indian Ocean based on ASPIC, working paper IOTC-2014-WPTmT05022_Rev1, Indian Ocean Tuna Commission 5th Working Party on Temperate Tunas, Busan, South Korea, 28–31 July 2014.
  6. 6 Harley, SJ, Davies, N, Tremblay-Boyer, L, Hampton, J and McKechnie, S 2015, Stock assessment for South Pacific albacore tuna, working paper WCPFC-SC11-2015/SA-WP-06_Rev1, Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Scientific Committee eleventh regular session, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, 5–13 August 2015.
  7. 7 Indian Ocean Tuna Commission 2015, Report of the eighteenth session of the Scientific Committee, Bali, Indonesia, 23–27 November 2015.
  8. 8 Williams, A, Patterson, H and Bath, A 2016, Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery, in H Patterson, L Georgeson, I Stobutzki and R Curtotti (eds), Fishery status reports 2016, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra, 404–420.
  9. 9 Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission 2015, Summary report for the eleventh regular session of the Scientific Committee, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, 5–13 August 2015.
  10. 10 Larcombe, J, Williams, A and Savage, J 2016, Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery, in H Patterson, Noriega, R, L Georgeson, I Stobutzki and R Curtotti (eds), Fishery status reports 2016, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra, 359–381.
  11. 11 Farley, JH, Hoyle, SD, Eveson, JP, Williams, AJ, Davies, CR and Nicol SJ 2014, Maturity ogives for South Pacific albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga) that account for spatial and seasonal variation in the distributions of mature and immature fish, PLoS ONE 9(1): e83017. 10.1371/journal.pone.0083017.
  12. 12 Farley, JH, Williams, AJ, Davies, CR, Clear, NP, Eveson, PJ, Hoyle, SD and Nicol, SJ 2012, Population biology of albacore tuna in the Australian region, FRDC Project No. 2009/012 final report, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Hobart.
  13. 13 Williams, AJ, Farley, JH, Hoyle, SD, Davies, CR and Nicol SJ 2012, Spatial and sex-specific variation in growth of albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga) across the South Pacific Ocean, PLoS ONE 7(6): e39318. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039318.
  14. 14 Zhou, S, Fuller, M and Smith, T 2009, Rapid quantitative risk assessment for fish species in seven Commonwealth fisheries, report for the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.
  15. 15 Australian Fisheries Management Authority 2009, Residual risk assessment of the level 2 ecological risk assessment: species results, report for the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery, AFMA, Canberra.
  16. 16 Zhou, S, Smith, T and Fuller, M 2007, Rapid quantitative risk assessment for fish species in selected Commonwealth fisheries, report for the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.
  17. 17 Australian Fisheries Management Authority 2016, Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery Management Arrangements Booklet: 2016 Fishing Season, AFMA, Canberra.
  18. 18 Australian Fisheries Management Authority 2016, Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery Managements Arrangements Booklet: 2016 Fishing Season, AFMA, Canberra.
  19. 19 Indian Ocean Tuna Commission 2015, Compendium of Active Conservation and Management Measures for the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, 27 September 2016, IOTC Seychelles.
  20. 20 Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission 2016, Conservation and Management Measures (CMMs) and Resolutions of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), WCPFC, Federated States of Micronesia.
  21. 21 Hobday, AJ and Young, J 2007, Pelagic fisheries, in AJ Hobday, ES Poloczanska and RJ Matear (eds), Climate impacts on Australian fisheries and aquaculture: implications for the effects of climate change, report for the Australian Greenhouse Office, Canberra, 47–53.
  22. 22 Lehodey, P, Hampton, J, Brill, RW, Nicol, S, Senina, I, Calmettes, B, Portner, HO, Bopp, L, Ilyina, T, Bell, JD and Sibert, J 2011, Vulnerability of oceanic fisheries in the tropical Pacific to climate change, in JD Bell, AJ Johnson, and AJ Hobday (eds), Vulnerability of tropical Pacific fisheries and aquaculture to climate change, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Noumea, New Caledonia, 433–492.
  23. 23 Briand, K, Molony, B and Lehodey, P 2011, A study on the variability of albacore (Thunnus alalunga) longline catch rates in the southwest Pacific Ocean, Fisheries Oceanography, 20: 517–529.
  24. 24 Domokos, R 2009, Environmental effects on forage and longline fishery performance for albacore (Thunnus alalunga) in the American Samoa Exclusive Economic Zone, Fisheries Oceanography, 18: 419–438.