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Title: Tuna  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Mackerel, List of fish of Hawaii, Bigeye tuna, Pacific bluefin tuna, Skipjack tuna
Collection: Commercial Fish, Edible Fish, Oily Fish, Scombridae, Seafood Red List, Sport Fish, Tuna
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Tunas (from top): albacore, Atlantic bluefin, skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Scombridae
Subfamily: Scombrinae
Tribe: Thunnini
Starks, 1910

A tuna is a saltwater finfish that belongs to the tribe Thunnini, a sub-grouping of the mackerel family (Scombridae) – which together with the tunas, also includes the bonitos, mackerels, and Spanish mackerels. Thunnini comprises fifteen species across five genera,[1] the sizes of which vary greatly, ranging from the bullet tuna (max. length: 50 cm (1.6 ft), weight: 1.8 kg (4 lb)) up to the Atlantic bluefin tuna (max. length: 4.6 m (15 ft), weight: 684 kg (1,508 lb)). The bluefin averages 2 m (6.6 ft), and is believed to live for up to 50 years.

Their circulatory and respiratory systems are unique among fish, enabling them to maintain a body temperature higher than that of the surrounding water. An active and agile predator, the tuna has a sleek, streamlined body, and is among the fastest-swimming pelagic fish – the yellowfin tuna, for example, is capable of speeds of up to 75 km/h (47 mph).[2] Found in warm seas, it is extensively fished commercially, and is popular as a game fish. As a result of over-fishing, stocks of some tuna species such as the Southern bluefin tuna have been reduced dangerously close to the point of extinction.[3]

This article is
one of a series on
Commercial fish
Large pelagic
billfish, bonito
mackerel, salmon
shark, tuna

anchovy, herring
menhaden, sardine
shad, sprat

cod, eel, flatfish
pollock, ray
carp, tilapia


  • Etymology 1
  • Taxonomy 2
    • True tuna species 2.1
    • Other tuna species 2.2
  • Biology 3
    • Description 3.1
    • Physiology 3.2
  • Fishing industry 4
    • Commercial fishing 4.1
    • Fishing methods 4.2
    • Association with whaling 4.3
    • Association with dolphins 4.4
    • Aquaculture 4.5
  • As food 5
    • Canned 5.1
    • Nutrition and health 5.2
    • Mercury levels 5.3
  • Management and conservation 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further references 9
  • External links 10
    • News 10.1


The term tuna derives from Thunnus, the Middle Latin form of the Ancient Greek: θύννος (thýnnos) “tunny-fish” – which is in turn derived from θύνω (thýnō), "rush, dart along".[4][5]


The Thunnini tribe is a monophyletic clade comprising fifteen species in five genera:

The cladogram is a tool for visualizing and comparing the evolutionary relationships between taxons, and is read left-to-right as if on a timeline. The following cladogram illustrates the relationship between the tunas and other tribes of the family Scombridae. For example, the cladogram illustrates that the skipjack tunas are more closely related to the true tunas than are the slender tunas (the most primitive of the tunas), and that the next nearest relatives of the tunas are the bonitos of the Sardini tribe.[1]

The Tunas: Thunnini tribe, within the Family Scombridae
family Scombridae 

 Butterfly kingfishes (1 genus)


tribe Scombrini 

 Mackerels (2 genera)

tribe Scomberomorini   Spanish mackerels (3 genera)

tribe Sardini 

 Bonitos (4 genera)

 tribe Thunnini,

 Allothunnus, slender tunas

 Auxis, frigate tunas

 Euthynnus, little tunas

 Katsuwonus, skipjack tunas

 Thunnus, true tunas 
 subgenus Thunnus  bluefin group

 subgenus Neothunnus  yellowfin group

Cladogram: Tunas are classified into the tribe Thunnini (bottom-right in the above diagram) – one of four tribes in the family Scombridae.[1]

True tuna species

Relative sizes of various tunas, with the Atlantic bluefin tuna (top) at about 8 ft (2.4 m) in this sample

The "true" tunas are those that belong to the genus Thunnus. Until recently, it was thought that there were seven Thunnus species, and that Atlantic bluefin tuna and Pacific bluefin tuna were subspecies of a single species. In 1999, Collette established that based on both molecular and morphological considerations, they are in fact distinct species.[6][7]

The genus Thunnus is further classified into two subgenera: Thunnus (Thunnus) (the bluefin group), and Thunnus (Neothunnus) (the yellowfin group).

Thunnus, the true tunas
Common name Scientific name Maximum
Source IUCN status
Thunnus (Thunnus) – the bluefin group
Albacore tuna T. alalunga
(Bonnaterre, 1788)
1.4 m
(4.6 ft)
1.0 m
(3.3 ft)
60.3 kg
(133 lb)
9–13 yrs 4.31 [8][9] NT IUCN 3 1.svg Near threatened[9]
Southern bluefin tuna T. maccoyii
(Castelnau, 1872)
2.45 m
(8.0 ft)
1.6 m
(5.2 ft)
260 kg
(570 lb)
20–40 yrs 3.93 [3][10] CR IUCN 3 1.svg Critically endangered[3]
Bigeye tuna T. obesus
(Lowe, 1839)
2.5 m
(8.2 ft)
1.8 m
(5.9 ft)
210 kg
(460 lb)
5–16 yrs 4.49 [11][12] VU IUCN 3 1.svg Vulnerable[12]
Pacific bluefin tuna T. orientalis
(Temminck & Schlegel, 1844)
3.0 m
(9.8 ft)
2.0 m
(6.6 ft)
450 kg
(990 lb)
15–26 yrs 4.21 [13][14] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern[14]
Atlantic bluefin tuna T. thynnus
(Linnaeus, 1758)
4.6 m
(15 ft)
2.0 m
(6.6 ft)
684 kg
(1,508 lb)
35–50 yrs 4.43 [15][16] EN IUCN 3 1.svg Endangered[16]
Thunnus (Neothunnus) – the yellowfin group
Blackfin tuna T. atlanticus
(Lesson, 1831)
1.1 m
(3.6 ft)
0.7 m
(2.3 ft)
22.4 kg
(49 lb)
4.13 [17] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern[18]
Longtail tuna T. tonggol
(Bleeker, 1851)
1.45 m
(4.8 ft)
0.7 m
(2.3 ft)
35.9 kg
(79 lb)
18 years 4.50 [19][20] DD IUCN 3 1.svg Data deficient[20]
Yellowfin tuna T. albacares
(Bonnaterre, 1788)
2.4 m
(7.9 ft)
1.5 m
(4.9 ft)
200 kg
(440 lb)
5–9 yrs 4.34 [21][22] NT IUCN 3 1.svg Near threatened[22]

Other tuna species

The Thunnini tribe also includes seven additional species of tuna across four genera. They are:

Other tuna species
Common name Scientific name Maximum
Source IUCN status
Slender tuna Allothunnus fallai
(Serventy, 1948)
1.05 m
(3.4 ft)
0.86 m
(2.8 ft)
13.7 kg
(30 lb)
3.74 [23] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern[24]
Bullet tuna Auxis rochei rochei
(Risso, 1810)
0.5 m
(1.6 ft)
0.35 m
(1.1 ft)
1.8 kg
(4.0 lb)
5 years 4.13 [25][26] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern[26]
Frigate tuna Auxis thazard thazard 
(Lacépède, 1800)
0.65 m
(2.1 ft)
0.35 m
(1.1 ft)
1.7 kg
(3.7 lb)
5 years 4.34 [27] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern[28]
Mackerel tuna,
Euthynnus affinis
(Cantor, 1849)
1.0 m
(3.3 ft)
0.6 m
(2.0 ft)
13.6 kg
(30 lb)
6 years 4.50 [29][30] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern[30]
Little tunny Euthynnus alletteratus
(Rafinesque, 1810)
1.2 m
(3.9 ft)
0.8 m
(2.6 ft)
16.5 kg
(36 lb)
10 years 4.13 [31] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern[32]
Black skipjack tuna  Euthynnus lineatus
(Kishinouye, 1920)
0.84 m
(2.8 ft)
0.6 m
(2.0 ft)
11.8 kg
(26 lb)
3.83 [33][34] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern[34]
Skipjack tuna Katsuwonus pelamis
(Linnaeus, 1758)
1.1 m
(3.6 ft)
0.8 m
(2.6 ft)
34.5 kg
(76 lb)
6–12 yrs 3.75 [35][36] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern[36]


Bigeye tuna Thunnus obesus showing finlets and keels. Finlets are found between the last dorsal and/or anal fin and the caudal fin. They are rayless and non-retractable.
Drawing by Dr Tony Ayling


The tuna is a sleek and streamlined fish, adapted for speed. It has two closely spaced dorsal fins on its back; The first is "depressible" – it can be laid down, flush, in a groove that runs along its back. Seven to 10 yellow finlets run from the dorsal fins to the tail, which is lunate – curved like a crescent moon – and tapered to pointy tips. The caudal peduncle, to which the tail is attached, is quite thin, with three stabilizing horizontal keels on each side. The tuna's dorsal side is generally a metallic dark blue, while the ventral side, or underside, is silvery or whitish, for camouflage.[37]


Thunnus are widely but sparsely distributed throughout the oceans of the world, generally in tropical and temperate waters at latitudes ranging between about 45° north and south of the equator.[38] All tunas are able to maintain the temperature of certain parts of their body above the temperature of ambient seawater. For example, bluefin can maintain a core body temperature of 25–33 °C (77–91 °F), in water as cold as 6 °C (43 °F). However, unlike "typical" endothermic creatures such as mammals and birds, tuna do not maintain temperature within a relatively narrow range.[39][40]

Tunas achieve endothermy by conserving the heat generated through normal metabolism. In all tunas, the heart operates at ambient temperature, as it receives cooled blood, and coronary circulation is directly from the gills.[41] The rete mirabile ("wonderful net"), the intertwining of veins and arteries in the body's periphery, allows nearly all of the metabolic heat from venous blood to be "re-claimed" and transferred to the arterial blood via a counter-current exchange system, thus mitigating the effects of surface cooling.[42] This allows the tuna to elevate the temperatures of the highly-aerobic tissues of the skeletal muscles, eyes and brain,[39][41] which supports faster swimming speeds and reduced energy expenditure, and which enables them to survive in cooler waters over a wider range of ocean environments than those of other fish.[40]

Also unlike most fish, which have white flesh, the muscle tissue of tuna ranges from pink to dark red. The red myotomal muscles derive their color from myoglobin, an oxygen-binding molecule, which tuna express in quantities far higher than most other fish. The oxygen-rich blood further enables energy delivery to their muscles.[39]

For powerful swimming animals like dolphins and tuna, cavitation may be detrimental, because it limits their maximum swimming speed.[43] Even if they have the power to swim faster, dolphins may have to restrict their speed, because collapsing cavitation bubbles on their tail are too painful. Cavitation also slows tuna, but for a different reason. Unlike dolphins, these fish do not feel the bubbles, because they have bony fins without nerve endings. Nevertheless, they cannot swim faster because the cavitation bubbles create a vapor film around their fins that limits their speed. Lesions have been found on tuna that are consistent with cavitation damage.[43]

Fishing industry

Bar chart that states Thunnus thynnus is the largest tuna, at 458 centimetres (180 in) followed by Thunnus orientalis at 300 centimetres (120 in), Thunnus obsesus at 250 centimetres (98 in), Gymnosarda unicolor at 248 centimetres (98 in), Thunnus maccoyii at 245 centimetres (96 in), Thunnus albacares at 239 centimetres (94 in), Gasterochisma melampus at 164 centimetres (65 in), Thunnus tonggol at 145 centimetres (57 in), Thunnus alalunga at 140 centimetres (55 in), Euthynnus alletteratus at 122 centimetres (48 in), Katsuwonus pelamis at 108 centimetres (43 in), Thunnus atlanticus at 108 centimetres (43 in), Allothunnus fallai at 105 centimetres (41 in), Euthynnus affinis at 100 centimetres (39 in), Auxis thazard thazard at 65 centimetres (26 in),Auxis rochei rochei at 50 centimetres (20 in), and Auxis rochei eudorax at 36.5 centimetres (14.4 in)
Maximum reported sizes of tuna species

Bar chart that states Thunnus thynnus is the largest tuna, at 458 centimetres (180 in) followed by Thunnus orientalis at 300 centimetres (120 in), Thunnus obsesus at 250 centimetres (98 in), Gymnosarda unicolor at 248 centimetres (98 in), Thunnus maccoyii at 245 centimetres (96 in), Thunnus albacares at 239 centimetres (94 in), Gasterochisma melampus at 164 centimetres (65 in), Thunnus tonggol at 145 centimetres (57 in), Thunnus alalunga at 140 centimetres (55 in), Euthynnus alletteratus at 122 centimetres (48 in), Katsuwonus pelamis at 108 centimetres (43 in), Thunnus atlanticus at 108 centimetres (43 in), Allothunnus fallai at 105 centimetres (41 in), Euthynnus affinis at 100 centimetres (39 in), Auxis thazard thazard at 65 centimetres (26 in),Auxis rochei rochei at 50 centimetres (20 in), and Auxis rochei eudorax at 36.5 centimetres (14.4 in)

Commercial fishing

Tuna is an important commercial fish. The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) compiled a detailed scientific report on the state of global tuna stocks in 2009, which includes regular updates. According to the ISSF, the most important species for commercial and recreational tuna fisheries are yellowfin (Thunnus albacares), bigeye (T. obesus), bluefin (T. thynnus, T. orientalis, and T. macoyii), albacore (T. alalunga), and skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis).[38]

The report further states:

Between 1940 and the mid-1960s, the annual world catch of the five principal market species of tunas rose from about 300 thousand tons to about 1 million tons, most of it taken by hook and line. With the development of purse-seine nets, now the predominant gear, catches have risen to more than 4 million tons annually during the last few years. Of these catches, about 68 percent are from the Pacific Ocean, 22 percent from the Indian Ocean, and the remaining 10 percent from the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Skipjack makes up about 60 percent of the catch, followed by yellowfin (24 percent), bigeye (10 percent), albacore (5 percent), and bluefin the remainder. Purse-seines take about 62 percent of the world production, longline about 14 percent, pole and line about 11 percent, and a variety of other gears the remainder 3.[38]

The Australian government alleged in 2006 that Japan had illegally overfished southern bluefin by taking 12,000 to 20,000 tonnes per year instead of the their agreed 6,000 tonnes; the value of such overfishing would be as much as US$2 billion.[44] Such overfishing has severely damaged bluefin stocks.[45] According to the WWF, "Japan's huge appetite for tuna will take the most sought-after stocks to the brink of commercial extinction unless fisheries agree on more rigid quotas".[46] Japan's Fisheries Research Agency counters that Australian and New Zealand tuna fishing companies under-report their total catches of southern bluefin tuna and ignore internationally mandated total allowable catch totals.[47]

In recent years, opening day fish auctions at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market have seen record-setting prices for bluefin tuna, reflecting market demand. In each of 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, new record prices have been set for a single fish – the current record is 155.4 million japanese yen (US $1.76 million) for a 221 kg (487 lb) bluefin, or a unit price of JP¥ 703,167/kg (US$ 3,603/lb). The opening auction price for 2014 plummeted to less than 5% of the previous year's price, which had drawn complaints for climbing "way out of line".[48] A summary of record-setting auctions are shown in the following table (highlighted values indicate new world records):

Record bluefin tuna auctions at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market
(highlighted field indicates new record price for a single fish)
Year Total
Total sale Unit price Source
( JP ¥ ) ( US $ ) ( ¥ / kg ) ( $ / lb )
2001 202 kg
(445 lb)
¥ 20.2 million $ 173,600 ¥ 100,000 / kg $ 386 / lb [49]
2010 232 kg
(511 lb)
¥ 16.28 million $ 175,000 ¥ 70,172 / kg $ 343 / lb [50]
2011 342 kg
(754 lb)
¥ 32.49 million $ 396,000 ¥ 95,000 / kg $ 528 / lb [49]
2012 269 kg
(593 lb)
¥ 56.49 million $ 736,000 ¥ 210,000 / kg $ 1,247 / lb [51]
2013 221 kg
(487 lb)
¥ 155.4 million $ 1.76 million ¥ 703,167 / kg $ 3,603 / lb [52]

In November 2011, a different record was set when a fisherman in Massachusetts caught an 881-pound tuna. It was captured inadvertently using a dragnet. Due to the laws and restrictions on tuna fishing in the United States, federal authorities impounded the fish because it was not caught with a rod and reel. Because of the tuna's deteriorated condition as a result of the trawl net, the fish sold for just under $5,000.[53]

Fishing methods

External video
Tuna pole and line fishing BBC Two

Association with whaling

In 2005 Nauru, defending its vote from Australian criticism at that year's meeting of the International Whaling Commission, argued that some whale species have the potential to devastate Nauru's tuna stocks, and that Nauru's food security and economy relies heavily on fishing.[55] Despite this, Nauru does not permit whaling in its own waters and does not allow other fishing vessels to take or intentionally interact with marine mammals in its Exclusive Economic Zone. In 2010 and 2011 Nauru supported Australian proposals[56] for a western Pacific-wide ban on tuna purse-seining in the vicinity of marine mammals — a measure which was agreed by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission at its eighth meeting in March 2012.

Association with dolphins

Dolphins swim beside several tuna species. These include yellowfin tuna in the eastern Pacific Ocean, but not albacore. Tuna schools are believed to associate themselves with dolphins for protection against sharks, which are tuna predators.[57]

Commercial fishing vessels used to exploit this association by searching for dolphin pods. Vessels would encircle the pod with nets to catch the tuna beneath,[58] however the nets were prone to entangling dolphins, injuring or killing them. Public outcry and new government regulations, which are now monitored by NOAA have led to more "dolphin friendly" methods, now generally involving lines rather than nets. However, there are neither universal independent inspection programs nor verification of "dolphin safeness", so these protections are not absolute. According to Consumers Union, the resulting lack of accountability means claims that tuna that is "dolphin safe" should be given little credence.

Fishery practices have changed to be dolphin friendly, which has caused greater

  • The Bluefin Tuna in Peril, Scientific American, June 24, 2008
  • How Hot Tuna (and Some Sharks) Stay Warm National Science Foundation, October 27, 2005
  • Haberman, Clyde (25 January 2008). "Tuna Fish Stories: The Candidates Spin the Sushi".  


  • - tuna market gateway
  • Nutritional benefits of tuna
  • Tuna at Greenpeace
  • Tuna at Stanford University Microdocs

External links

  • Clover, Charles. 2004. The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat. Ebury Press, London. ISBN 0-09-189780-7
  • FAO: Species Catalog Vol. 2 Scombrids of the World. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125, Volume 2. FIR/S125 Vol. 2.ISBN 92-5-101381-0
  • FAO: Review of the state of world marine fishery resources: Tuna and tuna-like species - Global, 2005 Rome.
  • Majkowski, Jacek (1995) "Tuna and tuna-like species" In: Review of the state of world marine fishery resources, FAO Fisheries technical paper 457, FAO, Rome. ISBN 978-92-5-107023-9.
  • Majkowski J, Arrizabalaga H, Carocci F and Murua H (2011) "Tuna and tuna-like species" In: Review of the state of world marine fishery resources, pages 227–244, FAO Fisheries technical paper 569, FAO, Rome. ISBN 978-92-5-107023-9.
  • Standard of Identity for Canned Tuna (United States), Code of Federal Regulations: 21 CFR 161.190 - Canned tuna.
  • Viñas J and Tudela S (2009) )"Thunnus"A validated methodology for genetic identification of tuna species (genus PLoS One, 4(10): e7606.

Further references

  1. ^ a b c Graham, Jeffrey B.; Dickson, Kathryn A. (2004). "Tuna Comparative Physiology" (PDF). The Journal of Experimental Biology 207: 4015–4024.  
  2. ^ Block, Barbara A.; Booth, David; Carey, Francis G. (1992). "Direct measurement of swimming speeds and depth of blue marlin" (PDF). Journal of Experimental Biology (Company of Biologists Ltd.) 166: 267–284.  
  3. ^ a b c Collette B and 8 others (2011). "Thunnus maccoyii".   "This species has been intensively fished since the early 1950s. Its generation length is conservatively estimated to be 12 years. Estimated spawning stock biomass has declined approximately 85% over the past 36 years (1973–2009) and there is no sign that the spawning stock is rebuilding. It is therefore listed as Critically Endangered. Implementation of effective conservation and management measures are urgently needed."
  4. ^ θύννος in Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert (1940) A Greek–English Lexicon, revised and augmented throughout by Jones, Sir Henry Stuart, with the assistance of McKenzie, Roderick. Oxford: Clarendon Press. In the Perseus Digital Library, Tufts University.
  5. ^ θύνω in Liddell and Scott
  6. ^ Collette, B.B. (1999). Séret, B.; Sire, J.Y., ed. "Proceedings". 5th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference: Nouméa, New Caledonia, 3–8 November 1997. Paris: Société Française d'Ichtyologie [u.a.] pp. 149–164.  
  7. ^ Tanaka, Y.; Satoh, K.; Iwahashi, M.; Yamada, H. (2006). in the northwestern Pacific Ocean"Thunnus orientalis"Growth-dependent recruitment of Pacific bluefin tuna . Marine Ecology Progress Series 319: 225–235.  
  8. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Thunnus alalunga in FishBase. January 2012 version.
  9. ^ a b Collette B and 35 others (2011). "Thunnus alalunga".  
  10. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Thunnus maccoyii in FishBase. January 2012 version.
  11. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Thunnus obesus in FishBase. January 2012 version.
  12. ^ a b Collette B and 31 others (2011). "Thunnus obesus".  
  13. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Thunnus orientalis in FishBase. January 2012 version.
  14. ^ a b Collette B and 35 others (2011). "Thunnus orientalis".  
  15. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Thunnus thynnus in FishBase. January 2012 version.
  16. ^ a b Collette B and 23 others (2011). "Thunnus thynnus".  
  17. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Thunnus atlanticus in FishBase. January 2012 version.
  18. ^ Collette B and 18 others (2011). "Thunnus atlanticus".  
  19. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Thunnus tonggol in FishBase. January 2012 version.
  20. ^ a b Collette B and 7 others (2011). "Thunnus tonggol".  
  21. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Thunnus albacares in FishBase. January 2012 version.
  22. ^ a b Collette B and 35 others (2011). "Thunnus albacares".  
  23. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Allothunnus fallai in FishBase. January 2012 version.
  24. ^ Collette B and 18 others (2011). "Allothunnus fallai".  
  25. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Auxis rochei in FishBase. January 2012 version.
  26. ^ a b Collette B and 28 others (2011). "Auxis rochei".  
  27. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Auxis thazard in FishBase. January 2012 version.
  28. ^ Collette B and 28 others (2011). "Auxis thazard".  
  29. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Euthynnus affinis in FishBase. January 2012 version.
  30. ^ a b Collette B and 6 others (2011). "Euthynnus affinis".  
  31. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Euthynnus alletteratus in FishBase. January 2012 version.
  32. ^ Collette B and 17 others (2011). "Euthynnus alletteratus".  
  33. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Euthynnus lineatus in FishBase. January 2012 version.
  34. ^ a b Collette B and 11 others (2011). "Euthynnus lineatus".  
  35. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Katsuwonus pelamis in FishBase. January 2012 version.
  36. ^ a b Collette B and 28 others (2011). "Katsuwonus pelamis".  
  37. ^ Gibbs, E. "Fact Sheet: Tuna #P1412". Rhode Island Sea Grant. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  38. ^ a b c "Status of the World Fisheries for Tuna: Section A-1 – Introduction". ISSF. 15 April 2009. Archived from the original on 2010-03-27. Retrieved 2009-11-10. 
  39. ^ a b c Sepulveda, C.A.; Dickson, K.A.; Bernal, D.; Graham, J.B. (1 July 2008). "Allothunnus fallai"Elevated red myotomal muscle temperatures in the most basal tuna species, . Journal of Fish Biology 73 (1): 241–249.  
  40. ^ a b "Tuna — Biology Of Tuna". Retrieved September 12, 2009. 
  41. ^ a b Landeira-Fernandez, A.M.; Morrissette, J.M.; Blank, J.M.; Block, B.A. (16 October 2003). "Temperature dependence of the Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA2) in the ventricles of tuna and mackerel". American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology 286 (2): R398–R404.  
  42. ^ Cech, J.J.; Laurs, R.M.; Graham, J.B. (1984). , a warm-bodied tuna"Thunnus alalunga"Temperature-induced changes in blood gas equilibria in the albacore, (PDF). Journal of experimental biology 109 (1): 21–34. Oxygenated blood that has just reached thermal equilibrium with ambient sea water in the gills enters the rete on the arterial side, while warmed, deoxygenated, and carbon dioxide-laden blood enters on the venous end. In the rete, countercurrent flow and the high surface area contact between the two blood supplies facilitate the transfer of nearly all of the metabolic heat in the venous blood to arterial blood, thus conserving muscle temperature. After exiting the rete, arterial blood continues to the red muscle capillary beds, and cooled venous blood flows to the gills where carbon dioxide is excreted and oxygen is loaded. 
  43. ^ a b Iosilevskii, G; Weihs, D (6 March 2008). "Speed limits on swimming of fishes and cetaceans". Journal of The Royal Society Interface 5 (20): 329–338.  
  44. ^ Bradford, Gillian (October 16, 2006). "Bluefin Tuna Plundering Catches Up With Japan". ABC News. Retrieved 11 August 2013. 
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See also

A 2010 tuna fishery assessment report, released in January 2012 by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), supported this finding, recommending that all tuna fishing should be reduced or limited to current levels and that limits on skipjack fishing be considered.[100]

It is widely accepted that bluefin tuna have been severely overfished, with some stocks at risk of collapse.[96][97] According to the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (a global, non-profit partnership between the tuna industry, scientists, and the World Wide Fund for Nature), Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna, Pacific Ocean (eastern & western) bigeye tuna, and North Atlantic albacore tuna are all overfished. In April 2009, no stock of skipjack tuna (which makes up roughly 60 percent of all tuna fished worldwide) was considered to be overfished.[98] However, the BBC documentary South Pacific, which first aired in May 2009, stated that, should fishing in the Pacific continue at its current rate, populations of all tuna species could collapse within 5 years.[99] It highlighted huge Japanese and European tuna fishing vessels, sent to the South Pacific international waters after overfishing their own fish stocks to the point of collapse.

In 2010, Greenpeace International has added the albacore, bigeye tuna, Pacific bluefin tuna, Atlantic bluefin tuna, southern bluefin tuna and the yellowfin tuna to its seafood red list. "The Greenpeace International seafood red list is a list of fish that are commonly sold in supermarkets around the world, and which have a very high risk of being sourced from unsustainable fisheries."[94][95]

[93] on risks to fisheries and species. The meeting concluded with an action plan drafted by some 60 countries or areas. Concrete steps include issuing certificates of origin to prevent illegal fishing and greater transparency in the setting of regional fishing quotas. The delegates are scheduled to meet at another joint meeting in January or February 2009 in Europe.[92] There are five main tuna fishery management bodies: the

Life cycle

Management and conservation

A book by Jane Hightower, Diagnosis Mercury: Money, Politics and Poison, published in 2008, discusses human exposure to mercury through eating large predatory fish such as large tuna.[88][89][90]

A January 2008 investigation conducted by the New York Times found potentially dangerous levels of mercury in certain varieties of sushi tuna, reporting levels "so high that the Food and Drug Administration could take legal action to remove the fish from the market."[87]

The Eastern little tuna (Euthynnus affinis) has been available for decades as a low-mercury, less expensive canned tuna. However, of the five major species of canned tuna imported by the United States it is the least commercially attractive, primarily due to its dark color and more pronounced 'fishy' flavor. Its use has traditionally been restricted to institutional (non-retail) commerce.

In 2007 it was reported that some canned light tuna such as yellowfin tuna[85] is significantly higher in mercury than skipjack, and caused Consumers Union and other activist groups to advise pregnant women to refrain from consuming canned tuna.[86]

In March 2004, the United States FDA issued guidelines recommending that pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children limit their intake of tuna and other predatory fish.[83] The Environmental Protection Agency provides guidelines on how much canned tuna it is safe to eat. Roughly speaking, the guidelines recommend one 6 oz. can of light tuna a week for those weighing less than 110 pounds and two cans a week for those who weigh more.[84]

In 2009 a California appeals court upheld a ruling that canned tuna does not need warning labels as the methylmercury is naturally occurring.[82]

Due to their high position in the food chain and the subsequent accumulation of heavy metals from their diet, mercury levels can be high in larger species such as bluefin and albacore.

A study published in 2008 found that mercury distribution in the meat of farmed tuna is inversely related to the lipid content, suggesting that higher lipid concentration within edible tissues of tuna raised in captivity might, other factors remaining equal, have a diluting effect on mercury content.[81] These findings suggest that choosing to consume a type of tuna that has a relatively higher natural fat content might help reduce the amount of mercury intake, compared to consuming tuna with a low fat content.

Mercury content in tuna can vary widely. For instance, testing by Rutgers University reportedly found that a can of StarKist had 10 times more mercury than another can of similarly identified tuna. This has prompted a Rutgers University scientist whose staff conducted the mercury analysis to say, "That's one of the reasons pregnant women have to be really careful ... If you happen to get a couple or three cans in the high range at a critical period when you are pregnant, it would not be good." Among those calling for improved warnings about mercury in tuna is the American Medical Association, which adopted a policy that physicians should help make their patients more aware of the potential risks.[80]

Mercury levels

Tuna can be a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. It can contain 300 milligrams (0.011 oz) per serving.[78] However, the level of omega-3 oils found in canned tuna is highly variable, since some common manufacturing methods destroy much of the omega-3 oils in the fish.[79] Tuna is also a good source of protein.

Tuna, light, canned in oil, drained solids
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 830 kJ (200 kcal)
0 g
8 g
29 g
Vitamin A equiv.
23 μg
29 mg
Vitamin D
269 IU
Trace metals
13 mg
1.4 mg
31 mg
311 mg
207 mg
0.9 mg
Other constituents
Water 60 g
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Nutrition and health

Australian standards once required cans of tuna to contain at least 51% tuna, but these regulations were dropped in 2003.[75][76] The remaining weight is usually oil or water. In the US, the FDA regulates canned tuna (see part c).[77]

As tunas are often caught far from where they are processed, poor interim conservation can lead to spoilage. Tuna is typically gutted by hand, and later pre-cooked for prescribed times of 45 minutes to three hours. The fish are then cleaned and filleted, canned, and sealed, with the dark lateral blood meat often separately canned for pet food. The sealed can is then heated under pressure (called retort cooking) for 2 to 4 hours.[74] This process kills any bacteria, but retains the histamine that can produce rancid flavors. The international standard sets the maximum histamine level at 200 milligrams per kilogram. An Australian study of 53 varieties of unflavored canned tuna found none to exceed the safe histamine level, although some had "off" flavors.[71]

In the United States, only Albacore can legally be sold in canned form as "white meat tuna";[73] in other countries, yellowfin is also acceptable. While in the early 1980s canned tuna in Australia was most likely Southern bluefin, as of 2003 it was usually yellowfin, skipjack, or tongol (labelled "northern bluefin").[71]

Canned tuna was first produced in 1903, quickly becoming popular.[71] Tuna is canned in edible oils, in brine, in water, and in various sauces. Tuna may be processed to be "chunked" or "flaked". In the United States, 52% of canned tuna is used for sandwiches; 22% for salads; and 15% for casseroles and dried, packaged meal mixes.[72]

Photo of grocery shelves
Canned tuna on sale at a supermarket


As food

Japan is the biggest tuna consuming nation and is also the leader in tuna farming research.[61] Japan first successfully farm-hatched and raised bluefin tuna in 1979. In 2002, it succeeded in completing the reproduction cycle and in 2007, completed a third generation.[62][63][64] The farm breed is known as Kindai tuna. Kindai is the contraction of Kinki University in Japanese (Kinki daigaku).[65] In 2009, Clean Seas, an Australian company which has been receiving assistance from Kinki University[66][67][68] managed to breed Southern Bluefin Tuna in captivity and was awarded the second place in World's Best Invention of 2009 by Time magazine.[69][70]

Increasing quantities of high-grade tuna are reared in net pens and fed bait fish. In Australia, former fishermen raise southern bluefin tuna, Thunnus maccoyii, and another bluefin species.[54] Farming its close relative, the Atlantic bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus, is beginning in the Mediterranean, North America and Japan. Hawaiʻi approved permits for the first U.S. offshore farming of bigeye tuna in water 1,300 feet (400 m) deep in 2009.[60]



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