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Bluefin tuna

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General

Mackerel-like fish

Mackerel-like (Scrombodei) from a subspecies of the Perciformes, the biggest order of fish. Mackerel (Atlantic-, horse mackerel etc), tuna, swordfish and barracudas all fall among the mackerel-like fish. Globally it is a very popular fish and forms an important source of food and income for many people. Mackerel are pelagic fish that live in large schools. While swimming in large schools, mackerel-like fish confuse their predators with the silver-like brilliance from their scales. Island mackerel is the smallest with 2o cm, the largest is the bluefin tuna that can reach a size of over 5 meters.

Bluefin tuna

The bluefin tuna is the largest and most commercially valuable species of tuna. There are three species of bluefin tuna; the Southern, the Pacific and the Atlantic. They can reach sizes of up to 2.5 m and weigh as much as 6800 kilograms. Like other species of tuna, bluefin tuna can often be found in large groups and often with other species of tuna of similar sizes.

 

Bluefin tuna

Thunnus thynnus
Origin

Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea (FAO 27; 37)

Farming- / Catch method

Pelagic longlines, Handlines and pole lines (mechanised)

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Explanation assessment

The first Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery was MSCMSC:
Marine Stewardship Council, an independent, international non-profit organization that has developed an eco-label that guarantees well-managed, sustainable fisheries. Fish products that meet the criteria of the eco-label can be identified by the blue MSC logo.
-certified in 2020. This species has been and is almost universally overfishedOverfished:
A stock is overfished when the stock size has decreased so far that it can no longer produce a maximum sustainable yield. The size of the fish populations is insufficient to reproduce in the long term. 
because of its high market value; it is one of the most expensive, commercial fish species in the world. Bluefin tuna managementManagement:
The regulations surrounding fisheries and aquaculture that ensure that production is carried out within legal frameworks and that sustainability can be assured.
in the Mediterranean is overseen by ICCATICCAT:
International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, an international fisheries organization responsible for the conservation of tuna and tuna species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas.
. A lack of robust information and observations at sea pose major problems for this fishery. In addition, the international nature of the tuna trade, the capturing and rearing of juvenile tuna and illegalIllegal fishing:
Fisheries that do not comply with the established agreements, such as not giving up catches to national authorities, operating without permission or in prohibited/closed zones. Illegal fishing is covered by IUU fishing (Illegal Unreported Unregulated).  
fishing contribute enormously to the slow recovery of this species.

Despite the fact that the stockStock:
The fish of a particular species reproducing in the same area in the same period. 
seems to be slowly recovering, Good Fish and WWF believe that the recovery is not yet sufficient to grant MSCMSC:
Marine Stewardship Council, an independent, international non-profit organization that has developed an eco-label that guarantees well-managed, sustainable fisheries. Fish products that meet the criteria of the eco-label can be identified by the blue MSC logo.
-certification. Therefore, we do not yet recommend this fishery as a sustainable choice.

Bluefin tuna

Thunnus thynnus
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, western (FAO 21; 31)

Farming- / Catch method

Handlines and pole-lines

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

There is some uncertainty regarding the exact status of the bluefin tuna stockStock:
The fish of a particular species reproducing in the same area in the same period. 
in these areas. However, fishing pressureFishing pressure:
Fishing pressure is a result of the fishing effort/amount of fishing on a stock, which determines the fishing mortality. Fishing mortality is the share of the fish stock that dies annually as a result of fishing.
is thought to be too high and it is likely that this species is being overfishedOverfished:
A stock is overfished when the stock size has decreased so far that it can no longer produce a maximum sustainable yield. The size of the fish populations is insufficient to reproduce in the long term. 
.

HandlinesHandlines and pole-lines:
A collective name for pole lines, jigs and troll lines. Hand lines and pole lines are used on a small scale most of the time and are relatively selective. unwanted by-catch have a high survival rate because they can be thrown back immediately.  
and pole-lines are unlikely to have significant effects on the ecosystem and other species. This fishing method also does not come into contact with the seabed.

Bluefin tuna managementManagement:
The regulations surrounding fisheries and aquaculture that ensure that production is carried out within legal frameworks and that sustainability can be assured.
is overseen by ICCATICCAT:
International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, an international fisheries organization responsible for the conservation of tuna and tuna species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas.
. A lack of robust information and observations at sea pose major problems for the management of this fishery. In addition, current management measuresManagement measures:
For fisheries, management measures can affect the amount of fish that can be caught, the type of gear that can be used and where fishing is and is not allowed.
are still insufficient to minimise bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
and prevent illegalIllegal fishing:
Fisheries that do not comply with the established agreements, such as not giving up catches to national authorities, operating without permission or in prohibited/closed zones. Illegal fishing is covered by IUU fishing (Illegal Unreported Unregulated).  
fishing. Management of this species is not effective.

Bluefin tuna

Thunnus thynnus
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, western (FAO 21; 31)

Farming- / Catch method

Pelagic longlines

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  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

There is some uncertainty regarding the exact status of the bluefin tuna stockStock:
The fish of a particular species reproducing in the same area in the same period. 
in these areas. However, fishing pressureFishing pressure:
Fishing pressure is a result of the fishing effort/amount of fishing on a stock, which determines the fishing mortality. Fishing mortality is the share of the fish stock that dies annually as a result of fishing.
is thought to be too high and it is likely that this species is being overfishedOverfished:
A stock is overfished when the stock size has decreased so far that it can no longer produce a maximum sustainable yield. The size of the fish populations is insufficient to reproduce in the long term. 
.

The tuna fishery with pelagic longlinesLonglines (drifting):
A fishing method whereby a long main line (40-100 km long) with transverse lines with hooks with bait is expanded. The line floats on buoys in the water column. 
most likely has a major impact on the ecosystem through bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
of endangered and protectedProtected species:
Many marine species are protected from deliberate or intentional disturbance, capture, injury and killing, and in some cases possession or sale. Species are often protected if they play an important role in the ecosystem or are sensitive to fishing. These marine species are protected regardless of whether they are inside or outside marine protected areas.
species.

Bluefin tuna managementManagement:
The regulations surrounding fisheries and aquaculture that ensure that production is carried out within legal frameworks and that sustainability can be assured.
is overseen by ICCATICCAT:
International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, an international fisheries organization responsible for the conservation of tuna and tuna species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas.
. A lack of robust information and observations at sea pose major problems for the management of this fishery. In addition, current management measuresManagement measures:
For fisheries, management measures can affect the amount of fish that can be caught, the type of gear that can be used and where fishing is and is not allowed.
are still insufficient to minimise bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
and prevent illegalIllegal fishing:
Fisheries that do not comply with the established agreements, such as not giving up catches to national authorities, operating without permission or in prohibited/closed zones. Illegal fishing is covered by IUU fishing (Illegal Unreported Unregulated).  
fishing. Management of this species is not effective.

ASC label

Fish with the ASC label is farmed in a sustainable manner.

MSC label

Fish with the MSC label is caught sustainably.

Good fish

This fish is not being overfished or is being responsibly farmed, with minimal impact on the environment.

Second choice

This fish is a second choice. There are still some improvements to be made in this fishery or fish farm.

Avoid

Do not buy this fish. It's being overfished or the way it's farmed or caught has a negative impact on the environment.

Welfare

There is fish available of this species that is farmed or caught using high welfare standards.

GlobalG.A.P.

GlobalG.A.P. certified farms are doing a step in the right direction in terms of sustainability. A few species with this label are getting a better score on the VISwijzer.

Organic

Organic standards are the strictest when it comes to fish feed. They also require certain measures for animal well-being.