FAO appraises tuna fisheries worldwide

World Fishing & Aquaculture

Approximately 40 species of tuna roam all over the world’s tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters, and they represent a very important source of food and employment in both developed and developing countries.

The global yields of tuna have been continually rising, exceeding 6.6m mt in 2010, an increase on 1950 yields by a factor of 11. The 2010 value of two thirds of the latter yields, consisting of the economically most important, ‘principal’ market species, was more than US$10 billion.

Landed all around the world by vessels from more than 85 countries, tuna represents about 8% of international trade in seafood products. The bulk of the catches of the principal market tuna species come from the Pacific (70.5% in 2008), with the Indian Ocean contributing more (19.5% in 2010) than both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean (10.0% in 2010) together.

In 2010, skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye and albacore yields came up to over 99% of the total tuna landings. Bluefin from both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans was less than 2%. Most tropical principal market tunas have reacted well to exploitation because of their high fecundity, a relatively short life span, wide geographic distribution and opportunistic behaviour that make them highly productive. The tropical species of skipjack and yellowfin are used mostly for canning. Because of that, they fetch lower prices than the tuna used for sashimi, such as bluefin and bigeye (bigeye is a tropical species).

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