Bluefin, Yellowfin, Bigeye, Skipjack, Longfin Albacore, and other Tuna Fish
In the USA, several species of tuna are landed including bluefin, yellowfin, bigeye, blackfin, skipjack and longfin albacore.
Each species has unique characteristics in terms of behavior and fishing techniques.
Seafood lovers also find that each fish has a distinct taste and appearance.
Tuna is consumed in a variety of ways. It is the most well known and available fish in the USA and many other parts of the world due to it's popularity as a canned product.
Fresh tuna is delicious grilled, blackened, or as sushi. Tuna salad is among the most commonly eaten meals in the world. It can be made with tuna from the can or by using leftover grilled tuna to create a unique and delightful tuna salad with a unique flavor.
Smoked fish lovers will be thrilled to know that tuna is excellent smoked. The finished product makes wonderful smoked fish dips, salads or just eaten as is.
U.S. commercial fishermen landed nearly 502 million pounds of tuna during 2011 ( source: Fisheries of the U. S., 2011).
Bluefin tuna are noted for having a large, torpedo-shaped body that is nearly circular in cross-section. The fish is dark blueish-black on the back and white on the lower sides and belly. On live bluefin, a pattern of lines alternate with rows of spots on the lower sides. The second dorsal fin is reddish brown. The color of the dorsal fin, the number of gill rakers on the first arch, and the very short pectoral fins separate this species from other members of the tuna genus, Thunnus.
Atlantic bluefin tuna sometimes exceed 1000 pounds and 9 feet in length. They are long lived pelagic fish that live and migrate in the open ocean. Atlantic bluefin tuna is the highest valued Atlantic tuna species in the market. Depending on regulations, bluefin tuna are caught with purse seines, handgear (rod and reel, handline, and harpoon), and longlines. Bluefin is low in sodium and is a source of vitamins A, B6, and B12, selenium, niacin, and phosphorous.
Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) are found in open waters of tropical and subtropical seas worldwide. Yellowfin Tuna reach lengths of more than 8 feet and can weigh over 400 lbs.
The body of yellowfin tuna are very dark metallic blue, changing to silver on the belly. The body is often strikingly marked with a pattern of vertical lines. The fish get their name from the coloration of the second dorsal fin and the anal fin which are bright yellow. The dorsal and anal fins and be very long in mature fish, and fish displaying this aspect are sometimes refered to as "allison tuna" by fishermen. Yellowfin tuna are also known as ahi in Hawaii.
Yellowfin tuna tend to school in large schools, sometimes with other species of tuna or other fish. They also travel with dolphins, porpoises or whales. The fish eat other fish, crustaceans, and squid.
Yellowfin tuna are a favorite among anglers in many parts of the USA and worldwide. Their aggressive feeding habits sometimes get them in trouble as anglers are able to fool feeding fish that would otherwise shy away from fishing line and other visible signs of danger.
Longfin Albacore Tuna
Albacore is a highly migratory species. It can be found in the cooler tropical waters, and is always on the move, seeking for best feeding and spawning grounds.
Due to its white colored meat albacore is also called "chicken of the sea". Albacore is popular in the States, where it is marketed as "White Tuna" and sold as canned products.
Skipjack tuna are small but highly migratory tuna which can be found in tropical waters.
Large schools sometimes mix with small yellowfin. Normally dolphins do not swim together with the small skipjack, which almost makes it a guaranteed dolphin-safe species.
The meat of the skipjack has a somewhat darker of color sometimes even slightly pinkish. It has a relatively tender texture, and is has somewhat more a fishy taste then some other tuna species.
The small size of the fish gives small loins and chunks, making it well suited for canned tuna.
photo credit: NOAA
Blackfin tuna (Thunnus atlanticus) are the smallest of the tuna species, generally growing to a maximum length of about 38 inches, weighing up to about 45 lbs. Blackfin tuna are found in the western Atlantic from Cape Cod to Brazil.
Blackfin have oval shaped bodies. The back is dark metallic blue, the sides are silvery-gray and the belly is white. Many have traces of a bronze-colored line down each side.
The most reliable way to distinguish blackfin from other tuna is the color of the small finlets located behind the dorsal and anal fins. In the other four species, they are yellow or yellow, edged with black. In the blackfin, they are distinctly dusky or yellowish.
- International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is an international regional fishery management organization (RFMO) with 47 members, including the United States.
- Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission
The IATTC, established by international convention in 1950, is responsible for the conservation and management of fisheries for tunas and other species taken by tuna-fishing vessels in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
- Tag-A-Giant Foundation
The Tag-A-Giant Foundation is committed to reversing the decline of northern bluefin tuna populations by supporting the scientific research necessary to develop innovative and effective policy and conservation initiatives.
Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Management
Atlantic tunas, billfish, and sharks are managed by the Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Management Division of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries).
Atlantic HMS species include Atlantic bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, longfin albacore tuna, yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna, swordfish, blue marlin, white marlin, roundscale spearfish, longbill spearfish, sailfish, and several species of sharks.
source: NOAA Fisheries