close up of tuna swimming in the ocean

Project

Global Tuna Conservation

Tuna are both the most commercially valuable fish on Earth and vital players in healthy ocean ecosystems. Four species of tuna—bluefin, bigeye, yellowfin, and skipjack—account for at least $42 billion of the $150 billion annual global seafood trade, support millions of jobs, and help ensure food security for some 3 billion people.

But those four species are also in trouble. Heavy fishing has driven the Pacific bluefin population down to a mere 4 percent of what it once was. The widespread use of fish-aggregating devices—rafts of material that attract schools of fish—has led to an alarming increase in the catch of juvenile tuna, jeopardizing the chances that some stocks can recover.

This situation is borne of decades of overfishing and mismanagement, exacerbated by illegal fishing, which is rampant in some regions. With the huge global demand for tuna, governments and fisheries management bodies must act now to reverse these species’ decline.

Pew is working to improve the international management of tuna species by:

  • Promoting science-based catch limits that do not allow overfishing;
  • Minimizing the impacts of destructive fishing gears;
  • Eliminating illegal fishing;
  • Increasing the transparency and accountability of tuna regional fisheries management organizations.
Project Goals
  • Encourage the development of harvest strategies, a modern management system, to ensure that the regional fisheries management organizations responsible for tuna stocks make   science-based decisions with the long-term health of these stocks in mind.
  • Work to end the overfishing of major tuna stocks, with a focus on securing the recovery of Atlantic bluefin, Pacific bluefin, and Atlantic bigeye tuna.
  • Ensure the long-term sustainability of tropical tunas through science-based management of fish aggregating devices, better known as FADs.
  • Improve the safety, transparency, and sustainability of tuna fishing by increasing observer coverage on board longline and transshipment vessels at sea. 
Ships
Ships
Fact Sheet

Harvest Control Rules

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Fact Sheet

Harvest control rules (HCRs) are the operational component of a harvest strategy, essentially pre-agreed guidelines that determine how much fishing can take place, based on indicators of the targeted stock’s status. These indicators can be based on either monitoring data or models.

Netting Billions
Netting Billions
Report

A Global Valuation of Tuna

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Report

Taken together, the seven most commercially important tuna species are among the most economically valuable fishes on the planet. Collectively, skipjack, albacore, bigeye, yellowfin, Atlantic bluefin, Pacific bluefin, and southern bluefin tuna inhabit all of the tropical and temperate waters of the Earth’s oceans—and support artisanal and industrial fishing wherever they exist. Canned and other shelf-stable tuna products provide plentiful and inexpensive protein to markets around the world, while smaller amounts of high-quality tuna steaks and sashimi make their way to affluent markets in Asia, Europe, and North America.

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Article

Pacific Bluefin Tuna Stock Remains Highly Depleted New Science Shows

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Article

Pacific Bluefin Tuna Stock Remains Highly Depleted New Science Shows

This week, the scientists who evaluate the health of Pacific bluefin tuna, one of the most iconic and valuable fish species in the world, released a new stock assessment that shows the population at just 3.3 percent of its unfished level. This confirms the species’ severely depleted status and points to the continued need for more effective management of the fishery.

Bigeye Tuna Refuge
Report

Estimating the Use of FADs Around the World

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Report

Estimating the Use of FADs Around the World

Many fish species naturally congregate near objects floating in the ocean, a fact that has been carefully and systematically exploited to catch schools of commercially valuable tuna for decades. Fish aggregating devices (FADs) are artificial floating objects, specifically constructed to attract these fish. Typically, these FADs consist of a floating raft, submerged synthetic netting, and a satellite buoy that allows a fishing vessel to return to a specific location to gather the catch. Synthetic rope or webbing often secures the components to the raft, and the webbing beneath the device can extend to depths of 80 meters.

Our Work