|White tuna (canned), albacore, longfinned albacore, thon blanc (France), tunny (UK), binnaga, bincho, tombo (Japan)|
The albacore troll fishery is the most ecologically sustainable tuna species in the Best Fish Guide. Troll caught tuna (e.g. West Coast of the South Island) which has MSC certification is the best choice however longline caught albacore is still ok to eat.
This top predator is a highly migratory species of tuna that is mainly caught by troll (91%) and longline (9%). The troll fishery is off the west coast of New Zealand’s North and South Islands. The albacore catch has steadily increased following the start of commercial fishing in the 1960s and fluctuated (between 2000 and nearly 7000 tonnes) in recent years. The New Zealand catch represents about 4% of the South Pacific catch.
Albacore is caught using trolls and surface longlines. There are concerns over the absence of national and South Pacific catch limits.
Troll fishery: Some concerns over the capture of juvenile fish and bycatch of finfish.
Longline fishery: some concerns over the seabirds, turtles and New Zealand fur seals bycatch. Some albacore is caught in the bigeye target tuna longline fishery and it captures turtles, including the vulnerable threatened leatherback and an estimated 593 seabirds a year including vulnerable threatened Gibson’s and Antipodean albatross, and near-threatened southern Buller’s albatross. Some albacore is also caught in the southern bluefin tuna target longline fishery and it also has significant bycatch concerns. It is estimated that 623 seabirds a year are caught, including white-capped albatross and Buller’s albatross.
The albacore troll fishery is certified from May 2011 for 5 years under the Marine Stewardship Council (an international body that assesses and awards sustainable fisheries certifications) and is currently under reassessment.
The main market is for canned albacore, with the canning process done outside New Zealand. Canned albacore tuna is sold as “white tuna”. Nearly 50% of exports in 2015 were to Spain. The export value was $9.03 million in 2015. The export value of all tuna and swordfish species combined was $42.3 million in 2015.
Two albacore fishing methods were assessed: troll caught and longline caught. Troll caught was rated light green and longline caught was rated amber. The best choice is troll caught albacore.
|Score:||Both troll and longline – B.|
|Population size:||Considered to be near 40%Bo but still in target range of 40-60%Bo – South Pacific migratory population.|
|Annual catch limit:||There are no catch limits set for New Zealand (it is not in the QMS) and there is no global catch limit.|
|Recorded catch:||Latest reported annual landings of 2466 tonnes in 2014. Albacore makes up 31% of surface longline catch but trolling makes up 91% of the albacore catch.|
|Stock trends:||Spawning biomass has been steadily declining.|
|MSY Status:||Estimate to be above BMSY and below FMSY.|
|The Ministry of Primary Industries assessment plenary report includes:||“Fishing mortality has generally been increasing through time, but is currently well below the MSY level.” (MPI 2015, p59-61).|
|Score:||Both troll and longline – C|
|Distribution:||Albacore tuna are a highly migratory species found on the west coast of the North and South Islands between New Plymouth and Fiordland. It is also found on the East Coast of the North Island.|
|Maximum age (years):||14+|
|Age at sexual maturity:||6-8|
|Age exploited:||1-2 years|
|Ability to recover:||Moderate|
|Score:||Troll – A, longline – B|
|Fishing method(s):||Trolling on the West Coast of the South Island (91% of catch) and long lining around the North Island (9% of albacore catch). Albacore represents 31% of the catch in the tuna longline fisheries, mainly the bigeye fishery but also in the southern bluefin tuna surface longline fishery.|
|Habitat damage:||Neither method impacts the seafloor.|
|Habitat of particular significance:||Hasn’t been defined in New Zealand.|
|Bycatch:||Troll fishery: Low numbers of sharks are caught in the troll fishery.
Longline fishery: Sharks species are caught in the longline fishery, including blue sharks, porbeagle shark, mako shark, deepwater dogfish and thresher shark. Blue sharks represent over 80% of the bycatch and sharks combined make up over 90% of the bycatch by number. Porbeagle, mako and thresher sharks are listed as vulnerable threatened species by the IUCN.
|Ecological effects:||Excess removal of this and other large predatory species can have knock-on effects on the wider food web and can have considerable ecological implications.|
|Score:||Troll – A, longline – E|
|Bycatch:||Troll fishery: There is no observed or reported seabird or marine mammal interactions in the troll fishery.
Longline fishery: Seabirds, turtles and New Zealand fur seals are caught in the surface longline fishery. The fishery also catches turtles (including leatherback turtle) at an observed rate of about one per year but, given level of observer coverage, actual numbers could be 10-40 times this. Estimated captures of about 593 seabirds a year in the bigeye longline target fishery include vulnerable threatened Gibson’s and Antipodean albatross, and near-threatened southern Buller’s albatross (includes cryptic mortality). An estimated 623 seabirds a year are caught in the southern bluefin tuna target longline fishery, including white-capped albatross and Buller’s albatross. It is estimated that 100 New Zealand fur seal captures occur in the longline fisheries (last 5 years), mostly in the southern bluefin tuna fishery.
|Score:||Both troll and longline – A|
|Management component:||Single species – South Pacific Albacore Stock|
|Score:||Both troll and longline – C|
|Quota Management Species:||No|
|Catch limits:||No, nor is there an Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ).|
|Management plan:||Highly Migratory Species management plan for 2010-15 is out of date, and has yet to be reviewed and replaced. There is an albacore operational plan for 2010-15, which is now out of date and has yet to be reviewed and replaced, and the old plan and operational plans lack key environmental standards. The National Plans of Action on Seabirds and Sharks are more relevant but they are slow to be implemented. There is no international management plan and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) has yet to apply effective measures to prevent over-fishing.|
|Stock assessment:||No New Zealand quantitative assessment but a 2015 assessment for the WCPFC isused (Harley et al 2012).|
|Research:||Little directed research is undertaken into the New Zealand albacore fishery.|
|Observer coverage:||Troll: Observer coverage is low to unobserved averaging 0.7% between 2008-07 and 2011-12 with no coverage in more recent years.
Longline: Observer coverage of 4.7% annually over the last 5 years but it is not spatially or temporally representative of the fishing effort.
Taken from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Plenary report for fisheries management.
Report from Fishery Assessment plenary November 2015: stock assessments and stock status – Volume 1: Introductory Sections to Ray’s Bream. Ministry of Fisheries Science Group, Ministry for Primary Industries; Ministry for Primary Industries (2016) Aquatic Environment and Biodiversity Annual Review 2015. Compiled by the Fisheries Management Science Team, Ministry for Primary Industries. 682p. The Guidebook to New Zealand Commercial Fish Species, 2007 Revised Edition, The New Zealand Seafood Industry Council Ltd. Seafood NZ, 2016. New Zealand Seafood Exports to December 2015. 133p. Ministry of Fisheries (2010) Operational Management Plan for Albacore Tuna, 2010-15. 16p.