Netting Billions 2020: Global Values and Trends for Tuna Fisheries

Explore catch and revenue data for the seven most commercially important tunas

Global Values and Trends for Tuna Fisheries

Editor’s note: On December 2, 2020, the interactive was updated to correct the loining/canning end values to include the value of byproducts in the total values.

Commercial tuna fisheries contribute more than $40 billion to the global economy each year, but high demand for these species has depleted their economic and ecological value. To investigate trends in the catch and value of these fisheries, The Pew Charitable Trusts has published two reports estimating the global values for commercial tuna fisheries targeting seven species: yellowfin, skipjack, bigeye, albacore and Atlantic, Pacific and southern bluefin tunas. “Netting Billions 2020: A Global Tuna Valuation” found that between 2012 and 2018, the estimated end value of these tunas—the total amount paid by the final customers—declined, even though the overall catch increased. The finding shows that changes in catch volume and revenue are not always correlated and that fishers may often be better off economically, in the long term, if they catch fewer fish.

The following tables provide data from Pew’s 2020 report on catch volume, dock value, and end value with all rows sorted by end value. You can explore the data by expanding the rows by region, gear, species and end product to find the specific values. Additionally, the filter icon, on the right, allows you to find the specific data you’re looking for and to drag and drop to adjust the order and hierarchy of the display. Once you find the trend line you want, simply hover over the individual data points to see their values, which are reported in nominal U.S. dollars. A glossary of terms and abbreviations used is available below. Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd., an independent fisheries and aquaculture consultancy based in the United Kingdom, conducted the research on sales values that underpins this report and interactive.


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RFMO

Regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) are multinational organizations charged with overseeing fisheries for highly migratory species such as tuna.

Volume
(metric tons)
Dock value
(USD)
End value
(USD)

Species

The seven most commercially important tuna species are skipjack, yellowfin, albacore, bigeye and southern, Atlantic and Pacific bluefins.

Volume
(metric tons)
Dock value
(USD)
End value
(USD)

Gear

Tunas are caught with many different gear types, from purse seine nets that encircle schools of fish to pole and lines that catch fish one at a time.

Volume
(metric tons)
Dock value
(USD)
End value
(USD)

End product

At least three-quarters of the tuna caught worldwide each year is processed and sold in cans. However, demand continues to rise for sashimi and other products.

Volume
(metric tons)
Dock value
(USD)
End value
(USD)

Glossary

RFMO — Regional Fishery Management Organization

ICCAT
International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas
IATTC
Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission
WCPFC
Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission
IOTC
Indian Ocean Tuna Commission
CCSBT
Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna

Gear Types

Purse seine
Large nets that encircle schools of fish; generally targeting high volumes of low value fish but also used to catch low volumes of high value bluefin tunas for ranching (defined below).
Longline
Hook and line fishing gear consisting of a long main line with up to thousands of baited hooks suspended from secondary lines at regular intervals.
Handline
Hook and line fishing gear consisting of a single vertical line with a barbed hook that is pulled by hand.
Other
Other fishing gears, sometimes a mix of fishing methods.
Pole & line
Hook and line fishing gear consisting of a single vertical line with a barbed hook that is pulled by pole.
Gillnet
Long netting that entangles fish or other marine life .
Troll
Hook and line fishing gear consisting of one or many baited fishing lines that are drawn through the water by a moving vessel.

End Products

Loining or canning
Tuna catch destined for canneries and sold to consumers in cans or pouches.
Frozen sashimi
Non-canned, frozen tuna catch destined for steak, fillet, or raw fish products.
Fresh sashimi
Non-canned, fresh tuna catch destined for steak, fillet, or raw fish products.
Domestic (fresh or processing)
Often low quality, tuna catch reserved for small-scale, traditional processing for local consumption (e.g., smoking, drying) or sold direct to consumers in fish markets.
Ranching
Live (Atlantic, Pacific, and southern) bluefin tuna catch destined for fattening pens where they are fed a specific diet that simultaneously increases their size and fat content to maximize their value in raw fish markets. Ranching also allows fishing operations to harvest the bluefin at the precise moment when the fish is most highly priced.

Tuna
Tuna

The Global Value of Tuna

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Commercial tuna fisheries contribute more than $40 billion to the global economy annually. But even as the combined catch of yellowfin, skipjack, bigeye, albacore, and Atlantic, Pacific, and southern bluefin tuna rose from 2012 to 2018.

Report

A Global Tuna Valuation

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Report

High demand for tuna products, however, has significantly depleted several populations, making sustainably managing tunas critically important. One way to support better population management is to improve our understanding of tunas’ importance to the global economy and marine ecosystems.