87.6% of the global tuna catch come from stocks fished at healthy levels, according to the latest ISSF Status of the Stocks report, which also states that 9.6% of tuna catches are from stocks that are unsustainably fished – and these urgently require stronger management measures to be put in place.
The ISSF report highlights Atlantic Ocean bigeye, Indian Ocean yellowfin and Pacific bluefin tuna stocks as continuing to be overfished and subject to overfishing, Indian Ocean albacore and bigeye continue to be subject to overfishing, while all skipjack and most albacore stocks remain healthy.
The catch of major commercial tuna stocks totalled 5.3 million tonnes in 2019, a 2% increase from 2018.
60% was skipjack tuna, followed by yellowfin (28%), bigeye (7%) and albacore (4%). Bluefin tuna accounted for 1% of the global catch.
Updated ISSF report rates state of tuna stocks worldwide
The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) produces its Status of the Stocks report twice each year using the most current scientific data on 23 major commercial tuna stocks.
The most recent is the second update since March 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic began to affect the work of the RFMOs. In particular, meetings of the scientific committees and commissions have been scheduled on different dates than usual, which delayed the November 2020 update of the report and made capturing the outcome of the latest RFMO commission meetings the main focus of this update.
According to ISSF, RFMOs have issued exemptions to certain monitoring requirements such as observer coverage. This has resulted in the possibility that summaries of management measures provided for the stocks, particularly in relation to observer coverage, may not be completely accurate in reflecting monitoring during this exceptional period.
Of the 5.3 milllion tonne tuna catch recorded in 2019, the main catch species are Western Pacific Ocean skipjack, Western Pacific Ocean yellowfin, Indian Ocean skipjack, Indian Ocean yellowfin and Eastern Pacific Ocean skipjack. These remain unchanged from the previous report.
There have been minimal changes in catches by various fishing gears since the last report. Purse seining accounts for 65.7% of catches. 10% of tuna is caught longlines, 7.8% using pole-and-line, 3.7% using gill nets and miscellaneous gears account for 12.8% of catches.