Tuna Stocks

Canned and pouched tuna comes almost exclusively from two particular species of tuna – skipjack and albacore. Approximately 70% of the canned and pouched tuna Americans enjoy is skipjack or some small amount of yellowfin, otherwise known as light tuna on store shelves. About 30% is albacore – otherwise known as white tuna.

Skipjack and albacore tuna stocks are among the healthiest and most carefully managed in the world. Skipjack stocks are considered by independent scientists and industry experts to be strong worldwide and safely able to sustain current – and possibly even increased – levels of fishing.

Albacore stocks are generally healthy and well managed. The healthiest and most bountiful stocks of albacore are in the Pacific Ocean. In fact, three times more albacore tuna is caught in the Pacific Ocean than in the Atlantic. Scientists and industry experts agree that stocks in the Pacific are not being over-fished and can safely support current levels of fishing.

The tuna industry recognizes that stocks of albacore in the north Atlantic require stronger management measures to return them to a healthier, more sustainable state. Only about 10% of commercial albacore tuna is sourced from these stocks and is done so in compliance with current conservation measures.

In the chart to the right, you will find more information on the status of tuna stocks for the two main tuna species that supply commercial tuna in the United States. For more information, this ISSF status of the stocks report contains in-depth analysis of tuna stocks, stock management efforts and conservation measures in place around the world.

State of the Stocks

In the chart, you will find more information on the status of tuna stocks for the two main tuna species that supply commercial tuna in the United States.


Status of the Stocks

Skipjack tuna is the species most commonly found in canned and pouched tuna products. It is better know as light tuna.

  • Catches of skipjack represent approximately 60% of global commercial tuna (2009)
  • Skipjack stocks are strong globally and are not being over-fished.
  • Most Skipjack are caught in the Eastern and Western Pacific Ocean.
  • Skipjack accounts for the largest share of tuna caught and eaten by people around the world.

Albacore is most often reffered to as white tuna and is the only tuna that can be sold with that label in the United States.

  • Catches of albacore represent approximately 5% of global commercial tuna (2009).
  • Most albacore are caught in the Northern and Southern Pacific Ocean.
  • Most albacore stocks can continue to support fishing at current rates with the help of science-based management and conservation measures.
  • Albacore in the north Atlantic require additional conservation measures to protect the stocks long-term sustainability. U.S. tuna companies support and comply fully with all conservation measures.
  • Today only about 10% of the global supply of albacore tuna is sourced from the north Atlantic fishery (2007).
Source: International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, May 2011