Purse Seine
Monday, 19 July 2010 08:15


The purse seine fishery in the western and central Pacific is essentially a skipjack fishery, unlike those of other ocean areas. Skipjack generally account for 70–85% of the purse seine catch, with yellowfin accounting for 15–30% and bigeye accounting for only a small proportion (Figure 5). Small amounts of albacore tuna are also taken in temperate water purse seine fisheries in the North Pacific.



Figure 5.  Purse seine catch, by species.


Features of the purse seine catch by species during the past decade include:

  • Annual skipjack catches fluctuating between 600,000 and 800,000 tonnes prior to 1998, a significant increase in the catch during 1998, with catches now maintained well above 1,000,000 tonnes. The provisional catch of skipjack for 2009 of 1,889,966 tonnes is the record high;
  • Annual yellowfin catches fluctuating considerably between 115,000 and 270,000 tonnes. The proportion of yellowfin in the catch is generally higher during El Niño years and lower during La Niña years (for example, 1995/96 and to a lesser extent 1999/2000). The 2008 yellowfin catch (386,293 tonnes) was easily the highest on record and remains an outlier, with the provisional 2009 catch falling back to 263,015 tonnes;
  • Increased bigeye tuna purse seine catches, (e.g. 41,628 tonnes in 1997 and 37,775 tonnes in 2000) coinciding with the introduction of drifting FADs (since 1996). In the period 2001–2006, bigeye catches were generally lower, but the catch estimate for bigeye in 2008 (44,457 tonnes) is the highest on record and the 2009 catch the second highest.
The geographical distribution of the purse seine fishery is tightly concentrated in the equatorial band, with the highest catches in the zone 5N - 10S (Figure 6).

Figure 6.  Purse seine catch by species, 2007-2009. 




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