Wednesday, 24 November 2010 14:06

Although colour and shape can be similar to other species of tuna, adult albacore are distinguished by their very long pectoral fins. Albacore are segregated into two discrete stocks in the WCPO, with the equatorial area (where albacore are rare) separating the southern component from those of the north. Mature albacore (age at first maturity is about 4 to 5 years) spawn in tropical and sub-tropical waters between 10 to and 25 degrees from the equator, with individual fish becoming available to surface fishing about 40 degrees from the equator approximately one to two years later, at a size of 45-50 cm. From this area, albacore appear to gradually disperse towards lower latitudes, but may make seasonal migrations between tropical and sub-tropical waters.

Small albacore are caught by trolling at the surface in cool water outside the tropics, while larger fish are caught deeper and mainly at lower latitudes (subtropical) using longline gear. Most of the catch is used for producing “white meat” canned tuna. Fish caught are typically from 1.5 to ten years old.

Albacore are relatively slow growing, and have a maximum fork length of about 130 cm. Natural mortality is low compared to tropical tunas, with significant numbers of fish reaching an age of 10 years or more.

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