Home TUNA FISHERIES Overview of Tuna Fisheries
Tuna Fisheries of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean
Monday, 19 July 2010 08:04


Tuna fishing in the Pacific Islands region has a rich history. For centuries, tuna have provided an important source of food for Pacific Island peoples and the traditional fishing techniques and equipment involved are part of their cultural heritage. Today, tuna are also an important source of income and employment for many SPC island members. For some, the tuna resources within their 200 mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs) represent their only significant renewable resource and their best opportunity for economic development.

The fishery in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean is therefore diverse, ranging from small-scale artisanal operations in the coastal waters of Pacific states, to large-scale, industrial purse-seine, pole-and-line and longline operations in both the exclusive economic zones of Pacific states and on the high seas. The main species targeted by these fisheries are skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis), yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), bigeye tuna (T. obesus) and albacore tuna (T. alalunga). Artisanal and larger-scale commercial fisheries exploiting the same stocks of these species also occur in the Pacific Ocean waters of adjacent southeast Asian countries, particularly Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam.

Total Catches
Monday, 19 July 2010 08:10

Annual catches of the four main tuna species (skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye and albacore tunas) in the WCPFC-CA have increased continuously since the beginning of significant commercial exploitation in the early 1950s (Figure 2). In 2009, the highest ever catch of 2.46 million tonnes was recorded. The expansion in the total catch over the past 30 years has been due primarily to the development of purse seine fishing in the region. As a result, catches of skipjack, the main target of the purse seine fishery, and yellowfin, a secondary target species, have been the main source of catch increases. The value of the landed catch has also grown, and has been USD 4-5 billion in recent years.

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.

Monday, 19 July 2010 08:19


The WCP–CA pole-and-line fishery has several components:



  • the year-round tropical skipjack fishery, mainly involving the domestic fleets of Indonesia, Solomon Islands and French Polynesia, and the distant water fleet of  Japan
  • seasonal sub-tropical skipjack fisheries in the home waters of Japan, Australia, Hawaii and Fiji
  • a seasonal albacore/skipjack fishery east of Japan (largely an extension of the Japan home-water fishery).
Monday, 19 July 2010 08:22


The longline fishery continues to account for around 10–13% of the total WCPFC–CA catch, but rivals the much larger purse seine catch in landed value. It provides the longest time series of catch estimates for the WCP–CA, with estimates available since the early 1950s. The total number of vessels involved in the fishery has generally fluctuated between 3,500 and 5,500 for the last 30 years.

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