Fisheries and aquaculture are confronted with continuing problems such as climate change, growing human populations, low income of small scale fishers and fish farmers, and competitive production and trading conditions. People should be confronting and discussing the challenges in order to come up with solutions on how we can respond; and the community should be resilient and adaptive in combatting the challenges. We cannot immediately solve some problems, such as overfishing, illegal fishing, depletion of marine resources, as they have deep root causes, but we are learning how to address them. Governments do their best to manage fishery resources to meet these challenges. Decision makers and the public also need to continually listen to new information so that they are equipped with knowledge for sustaining marine and aquaculture resources and protecting people who depend on them for nutrition, livelihood and business. Research is an important information gathering tool that contributes to policy and decision-making. The Asian Fisheries Society and its partners are taking a lead in making new information accessible through its platform AsiaPacific-FishWatch providing essential information on fish harvested or farmed for food in Asia-Pacific. I am pleased that AsiaPacific-FishWatch gives attention in its profiles and posts to the critical social, economic and market character of the value chains. The Asian Fisheries Society emphasises equally social and economic knowledge and biological, physical and technical knowledge.

Prof. Alice Joan G. Ferrer, PhD, President, Asian Fisheries Society


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By Shinoj Parappurathu, C. Ramachandran, A. Gopalakrishnan

ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi – 682 018

Email: pshinoj at

Lohithakshan and Girija smAcross the globe, the need for institutional mechanisms to address risk and uncertainties in the fisheries sector has intensified in the recent times on several counts. First, advancements in technology have resulted in escalation of investments, thereby deepening the economic risks associated with fishing and fisheries; second, climate change and resultant increase in the incidence of extreme weather events pose serious threats to the coastal inhabitants and their livelihood, mainly the fishing community; and third, capture fishing is inherently risky, with over 24,000 fisher folk casualties every year as per the estimates of the International Labour Organization, besides damages to craft and gear. Insurance is one of the widely accepted social safety net tools adopted across the world as an effective instrument for containing and mitigating a wide variety of risks such as asset risks, production and management risks, market risks, personal and health risks. Several variants of insurance products are in vogue in the fisheries sector such as accident insurance to cover the life/disability risks of fishing crew; vessel/ gear (fishing net) insurance to cover the damages incurred to fishing equipment; insurance coverage for coastal assets (houses and other immovable property) of fisher folk; aquaculture insurance to cover damages to crops due to disease incidence or other weather events, and so on. Insurance as a safety net is particularly important in developing coastal economies as they are predominantly small-holder oriented, supporting the livelihoods of a significant number of resource poor coastal inhabitants, for whom shock-absorption mechanisms during difficult times are crucial for survival.

Study area mapA recent study1 we and our colleagues conducted throws light on the level of adoption of various types of insurance by the fisher folk in the coastal belt of India. The study illustrated that risk financing behavior of Indian fishermen is notably low except in a few areas and that a number of constraints contribute to the prevailing state of affairs.

Based on a primary survey conducted across selected maritime states of India in 2016, an assessment of the adoption of various types of personal/group accident insurance schemes revealed interesting insights. On the positive side, adoption of personal/group accident insurance was fairly high in the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, with over 80 per cent of fishermen covered in the former. On the other hand, none of the respondent fishermen were insured in Andhra Pradesh, despite it being a state with a high incidence of extreme weather events. The states of Gujarat and Odisha were no better with only large landing centres well served, leaving out the majority of smaller ones.

The level of adoption of vessel insurance was also not found to be better. Except in the case of large landing centres where influential boat owners’ associations operate their own insurance programs using revolving corpus funds collected from fishermen, the coverage of vessel insurance is hardly satisfactory across the maritime states. Insurance coverage of fishing nets is even worse with most of the fishermen having opted out of it irrespective of region. In the same vein, household asset insurance coverage against unforeseen natural disasters, to which most of the coastal families are routinely exposed, is reported to be minimal.

What are main factors that hold back Indian fishermen from accessing insurance coverage for themselves and their assets? The study indicates that the main factors are lack of awareness of risk management solutions, a low resource base making available risk management options nearly unaffordable, and lack of confidence in claim settlement procedures.

On the part of the insurance industry, besides high risk perception, the dissuading factors are profitability concerns, high chance of moral hazards (e.g., greater risk taking behavior by those insured) and lack of adequate data about disaster risks. As enrollment by fishermen is lower due to the above reasons, the insurance companies have limited options to develop products that are affordable. The private insurance industry seems to have stayed back, citing the low interest of fishermen, poor demand for insurance, low profitability, high risk involved and high moral hazards. The study however emphasizes the need for catching up with rest of the sectors, as the investment stakes in fisheries have gathered weight in recent times.

We, however, are optimistic about the scope for reforming fishery insurance in the country through concerted efforts. In our study, we indicate the need for inculcating a risk financing culture in the coastal areas with the help of social campaigns. Ensuring the participation of grass-roots level organizations (fishery cooperatives/NGOs/boat owner associations/producer associations) as intermediaries or partners for insurance administration would be helpful to strengthen grass root level support services. Micro-level enrollment could be catalyzed by deploying a brigade of rural insurance agents/service providers. Bundling micro-credit with asset/disaster insurance programs is another sensible option to enhance coverage of schemes in areas where self-help groups have an active presence. To enhance affordability of fisher folk to insurance products, flexible options such as payment of premium in installments may be introduced. Another alternative is to bring in the provision of compensating for partial damage of fishing vessels. Presently, this is not on offer. New products in hitherto un-serviced areas like cage culture, seaweed farming and mussel culture could be thought of. The government should strive towards developing adequate dispute settlement mechanisms to address grievances, besides taking measures to increase competition in the insurance sector by incentivizing the entry of new players. Some of the existing unhealthy subsidies may be reallocated towards incentivizing greater insurance coverage. A certain degree of legislative coercion in the form of mandatory insurance coverage in selected enterprises may be also considered to enhance adoption.

Flood damage in GothuruthTogether with governance reforms, technology can play a vital role in improving efficiency, bringing transparency and reducing moral hazards in fishery insurance. Innovative products such as weather-index based insurance schemes are already in force in the agriculture sector, wherein, satellite data and inputs from weather stations are being used to trigger insurance payments in case of occurrence of weather related events. These can be extended to the fisheries sector as well, to increase efficiency and simplify procedures. The inputs from such platforms could be used for compensating damages to coastal assets of fisher folk, marine cages, and other fishery-related infrastructure. Similarly, advanced vessel monitoring systems (VMS), which are presently in the pipeline to be introduced in India, could be used to track the fishing vessels and assess incidents such as mid-sea capsizing and collisions. Such data would be valuable for the insurance companies to verify insurance claims by affected beneficiaries. Further, interactive ICT tools and mobile applications could be leveraged for speedy processing of insurance claims as well as for real-time assessment of damages incurred to fishing vessels and mariculture units in case of calamities. Over and above these, long-lasting efforts to improve the socio-economic conditions and living standards of the fishing community through development programs can complement the greater use of insurance.



1. "What ails fisheries insurance in India? An assessment of issues, challenges and future potential” by Parappurathu, Shinoj, Ramachandran, C., Gopalakrishnan, A., Kumar D., Poddar, M.K., Choudhury, M., Geetha, Koya, M.K., R., Kumar, R.N., Salini, K.P. and Sunil P.V. In Marine Policy (2017) 86: 144-155.

Acknowledgements The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support obtained from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (through institute project no. FISHCMFRISIL201202200020) for conducting the study.

GA 010 Alita-cropAsiaPacific-FishWatch's Sustainability pages for 6 Western and Central Pacific and Indian Ocean tuna species – covering 12 stocks – have been updated. By current assessments, the outlooks, tempered by management measures being taken, show:

  • Skipjack tuna: outlook remains unchanged since previous reviews. Compared to our update last year which showed 5 skipjack fisheries certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, now 8 fisheries have become certified, including some of the previously certified fisheries achieving re-certification. LINK
  • Yellowfin tuna: The status of both stocks is unchanged with Indian Ocean stocks overfished and overfishing occurring. Although the Western and Central Pacific stock is not overfished, concern is expressed over fishing pressure and bycatch by some fishing gears. The number of certified yellowfin tuna fisheries has risen from 5 last year to 11 presently. LINK
  • Bigeye tuna: Although not yet considered overfished, the latest assessment for the Western and Central Pacific Ocean stock continue to express concern that the stock is in a more depleted state than other stocks in this region, and bycatch is a problem with some gear. No bigeye fishery has been certified, but one combination yellowfin and bigeye tuna longline fishery was certified in late 2018. LINK
  • Albacore tuna: None of the three stocks (Northern Pacific Ocean, Southern Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean) are considered overfished but concern is expressed at the fishing pressure on the Northern Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean stocks. One additional fishery on the Southern Pacific Albacore stock was certified in 2018, bringing the total certified certified fisheries to 9 for all three fish stocks. LINK
  • Longtail tuna: Stock assessments and catch data remain incomplete. Recent Indian Ocean assessments consider the stocks overfished and that overfishing is occurring. This species is within the management mandate of the IOTC but not the WCPFC. LINK
  • Pacific bluefin tuna: This stock is considered overfished and overfishing is occurring. The rebuilding plan will be kept under more constant review from 2019. A slow recovery is underway but the stock is still near an historically low level. LINK

These updates owe a big debt to the stock assessment experts and reviewers associated with regional fisheries management and technical organisations (SPC, WCPFC, IOTC, ISC, IATTC and the national body members of committees) and to the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation for its regularly updated overviews of stock status (see the latest Stock Status Report at:

Victoria Jolland is thanked for pulling together all the information for the 6 species Sustainability and Quick Facts updates.

Photo: Man weighing yellowfin tuna while woman does the recording, General Santos City tuna port. Source: Alita Roxas, Mindanao State University- Iligan Institute of Technology, Philippines and USAID-Oceans project.


We have updated the Sustainability pages in our 6 tuna species profiles in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. Check out the profile pages to get the current situation.

  • Skipjack tuna: Essentially unchanged status since previous reviews.
  • Yellowfin tuna: Unchanged status, and concerns for the state of the Indian Ocean stock remains; for Western and Central Pacific Ocean stock, fishing pressure is considered heavy and little or no room for greater effort; environmental concerns due to bycatch remain for several fishing gears.
  • Bigeye tuna: The latest assessment for the Western and Central Pacific Ocean stock is that it is not overfished but concern is expressed as the stock is in a more depleted state than other stocks in this region.. Several fishing gears cause bycatch problems. Check out our new pages on bigeye tuna  Production and Supply Chains & Markets.
  • Albacore tuna: None of the three stocks (Northern Pacific Ocean, Southern Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean) are considered overfished but concern is expressed at the fishing pressure on the Norther Pacific Ocean stock. Check out our new pages on albacore tuna Production and Supply Chains & Markets.
  • Longtail tuna: Stock assessments and catch data are incomplete and concern has been expressed over the status of the stocks . Recent assessments consider the stocks both overfished and that  overfishing is occurring. This species is within the management mandate of the IOTC but not the WCPFC.
  • Pacific bluefin tuna:  This stock is considered overfished and overfishing is occurring. The rebuilding plan will be kept under more constant review from 2019.

Once again, a big debt is owed to the stock assessment experts and reviewers associated with regional fisheries management and technical organisations (SPC, WCPFC, IOTC, ISC, IATTC and the national body members of committees) and to the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation for its regularly updated overviews of stock status (see the latest Stock Status Report at:

Photo (above): Workers inspect new cans for tuna at Solomon Islands cannery, c 2009. Photo: Amanda Hamilton.

In recent years, international meetings on managing the Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) and seafood auctions for this species have sparked headlines, such as those below, advocating urgent action to reduce overfishing or exclaiming at the astronomical prices for a single large fish.

The fishery for Pacific bluefin tuna is in serious trouble, more so than for any other tuna, even the other bluefin tuna stocks (for a summary, see the ISSF Status of the Stocks Report). The wild population of Pacific bluefin tuna is officially overfished, and overfishing is still going on.


AsiaPacific-FishWatch has produced an authoritative profile of Pacific bluefin tuna that will help you navigate the complex profile of this species. We cover its stock status, how it is produced from fishing, ranching and closed life-cycle aquaculture, what we know about who produces it, and how its eaten, as well as it basic biology and how it is affected by the environment and climate. The profile has been developed and reviewed by experts.

Here are some key facts from our Pacific bluefin tuna profile, although much remains to be understood about this species. Please visit the whole profile on this link:

  • Pacific bluefin tuna is economically and ecologically important due to its high market value and its role as a large predator in pelagic ecosystems. It is highly migratory and very widely distributed in the Pacific Ocean, seasonally inhabiting subarctic, temperate, and tropical waters in the North Pacific Ocean, and temperate waters in the south around Australia and New Zealand. It also undertakes large vertical movements.
  • Pacific bluefin tuna has only one stock and spawning has only been recorded in the north western Pacific Ocean. It is the second largest of all the tunas. Only the Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) is larger. Until 1999, Pacific and Atlantic Bluefin tuna were considered the same species.
  • About 14,000 tonnes is caught from the wild per year, most in the Western Pacific Ocean. Many of the smaller Pacific bluefin tuna are caught live in coastal waters, and taken to coastal cages in Japan and Mexico, and grown out, adding weight and value to the wild catch. In 2002 in Japan, the life cycle was closed in captivity and a small amount of production now comes from full aquaculture. Pacific bluefin tuna is caught both as targeted catch and as non-targeted bycatch, by many different fishing methods, including by several types of small-scale Japanese fisheries.
  • Pacific bluefin tuna is managed jointly by two tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMO), namely the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) and their country members. Given the concerns for the status of the stock and its fisheries, environmental non-government organizations have campaigned for much stronger catch restrictions.
  • The Pacific bluefin tuna stock is assessed as overfished and subject to overfishing. The 2016 stock assessment from the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC) estimated that the spawning stock biomass was 2.6% of its estimated unfished level.
  • Pacific bluefin tuna is a most prized commodity in the sashimi market.
  • Under global climate change predictions, the relative abundance, spatial distribution ranges, and predator-prey dynamics in food webs of Pacific bluefin tuna are expected to change in response to altered oceanographic regimes that govern life cycle and seasonal movements.

The profiles have been written by Victoria Jollands and peer reviewed by many experts. Information has been drawn from peer reviewed sources which are given for each page of the profile. See Contributors and Reviewers for details and acknowledgements.

Longtail tuna (Thunnus tonggol) is growing in importance on local and international tuna markets.

As a member of the genus Thunnus, longtail tuna is closely related to the main oceanic tunas such as the bluefin tunas, yellowfin, bigeye and albacore tuna. Yet, it has a very different habitat to these species. It lives in coastal and inshore areas, most commonly in depths less than 50 m. It is one of the neritic tunas (neritic: near shore).

AsiaPacific-FishWatch has compiled a profile of longtail tuna. This species is only found in the Indo-West-Pacific region, where catches match those of bigeye and albacore tuna. For landings, the top eight countries are Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Oman, India, Pakistan and Yemen. Given these key countries, not surprisingly, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center pay more management attention to longtail tuna than does the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

Here are some key facts about longtail tuna, although much remains to be discovered about this species:

  • Limited genetic studies indicate at least two stocks – one in coastal northwest India and one in the South China Sea. More studies are required to define the structure of stocks and remove uncertainty over which units to use for stock assessments.
  • Full regional stock assessments are not available. Several local assessments predict the longtail tuna fishery will reach overfished status under the current fishing pressure. No longtail tuna fishery has received certification of sustainability.
  • Most longtail tuna are caught in gillnets, purse seines and troll lines. Usually, the fish are caught in multi-species fisheries, making management of this species difficult. Accurate catch data are difficult to collect.
  • Longtail tuna is sold canned, smoked and fresh, including as sashimi, in domestic markets and on the global market. Longtail tuna canning facilities are located in India, Indonesia, Iran, and Thailand and are supplied with fish captured primarily from purse seines.
  • Longtail tuna is an important recreational fishing species in Australia and Oman.
  • Consumer guides have been inconsistent, partly due to the large data gaps for longtail tuna.

Find out more about longtail tuna by exploring the pages of our profile - Quick Facts, Sustainability, Production, Supply Chains & Markets, Environment & Climate, and Biology.

The profiles were written by an expert team: Duncan Leadbitter, Shane Griffiths, Demian Willette and Thomas Nugroho, and peer reviewed by many other experts (see: Contributors & Reviewers).

After early planning thanks to support from NOAA's FishWatch and potential regional collaborators, AsiaPacific-FishWatch began by starting to prepare full profiles of the 4 key oceanic tuna species, thanks to a grant from the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). These four pilot species comprising of 9 recognised stocks – skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye and albacore tuna - are nearly complete (see Species). AsiaPacific-FishWatch has not yet ventured into other oceanic tunas such as the temperate bluefins (Southern Bluefin and North Pacific Bluefin) and the more coastal (so called neretic) tunas. The four tuna profiles revealed generic lessons for tackling other species, and highly particular insights into where to find expert knowledge on oceanic tunas in the Indian and Western Pacific oceans. The Indian and Western and Central Pacific ocean tuna fisheries produce nearly three quarters of the world's tuna and competition for the fish is increasing. Even as the tuna profiles were composed and reviewed, the transparency of the sources of tuna information improved greatly. Further improvements still are expected as tuna resources and fishing comes under greater public scrutiny, and civil society environmental and labor advocates become more interested and vocal in the tuna management forums.

One lesson from profiling the four oceanic tuna species is that the species differ from each other in important ways, such as in their preferred ocean habitats, growth rates and markets. We hope that the differences as well as similarities become clearer in you read our authoritative profiles, and that this may help to better inform public discussion over actions to ensure sustainability of the resources and social justice in the supply chains. Our profiles are short summaries, barely the tip of an iceberg of expert knowledge and outstanding knowledge gaps.

A quick guide to knowledge on oceanic tunas

The following short guide is presented to share what we have learned after scoping the knowledge iceberg under the water, to help you see more of the iceberg by diving into the depths of knowledge and to keep up with the knowledge of oceanic tunas as it evolves.

Basic identification and biology

A good place to start is with the Food and Agricultural Organization(FAO) and its species fact sheets (see each tuna species page on AsiaPacific-FishWatch),and this link for the species synopsis book.

The IOTC, SPC and ISSF publish handy tuna and bycatch identification guides. Check these out, including extensive guides from the SPC in distinguishing yellowfin and bigeye tuna in all states of freshness and otherwise:

  • Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC): species identification cards
  • Secretariat for the Pacific Community (SPC): For the most comprehensive guides and handbooks to the identification of yellowfin and bigeye tuna, from fresh to frozen and damaged, see the Secretariat for the Pacific Community FAME Digital Library, and enter "yellowfin" AND "David Itano" (author) into the search boxes to obtain the guides, many in several languages.
  • For ISSF skippers and observers guidebooks online, click this link for the Guidebooks. The guidebooks include identification guides and help on gear practices to avoid and mitigate bycatch.
Stock assessment and stock status reporting is key

In the scientific knowledge base, these four ocean tuna species are each recognized as global, well defined species. They are fished throughout their ranges. Thus the most basic biology - species identification, range and distribution - is established. For the purpose of assessing the status of the stocks, however, much more information than basic biology is needed, starting with defining populations or separate stocks that form the basic units for fisheries assessment. As all species are considered "highly migratory," scientific research has studied the patterns of movement for individual fish, using tags.The types of tags used to mark individual fish started as simple individual markers and have now become highly sophisticated with the advent of electronic archival tags to store and track multiple types of fish and ambient environment information. In the meantime, as tagging and other studies such as genetics, growth and reproductive biology started to reveal more and more about the actual spatial structures of populations, tuna stock assessment experts have had to make working approximations on what to consider as stocks. Hence, for the purposes of assessments, 9 stocks are used, consisting of Indian Ocean (IO) and Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) stocks in the case of skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye, and, in the case of albacore tuna, IO, Southern Pacific Ocean and Northern Pacific Ocean stocks. Finer spatial resolution and divisions by fishing gear are used in all assessments.

Because stock assessment also requires information on the species growth, life cycle and reproduction, the reports of stock assessments are handy sources to look through for such material. The biological basics are usually succinctly summarized out of the primary research literature consisting of detailed research papers in journals, technical reports and conference papers. For Asia-Pacific, we summarize much of the basic biological knowledge in our species profiles, and provide you with the main sources. Here is where to find these key stock assessment reports:

Global overview:

The ISSF Status of Stocks overviews provide assessments for all oceanic tunas, by stock, based on the regional tuna management organisations' assessments and other credible information on fisheries management measures and environmental issues, especially bycatch of each fishing gear type. ISSF also publishes an overview of bycatch issues in its Status of the Stocks reports.

Indian Ocean:

  1. IOTC Stock Status Dashboard, also links to summary of latest overview of each IO stock 
  2. IOTC Scientific Committee meeting reports and papers
  3. IOTC Home Page 

Western and Central Pacific Ocean:

  1. The Secretariat for the Pacific Community’s Ocean Fisheries Programme website contains a wealth of data and access to publications.
    • More detailed catch and effort data, aggregated for release in the public domain, can be accessed on this link.
    • The WCPFC catalogue of available data can be found at this link.
  2. The SPC also provides an annual overview of stock status. The latest can be downloaded at SPC Oceanfish by clicking on Tuna Stock Status on the right bar.
  3. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) Scientific Committee reports and all the meeting papers are online.
  4. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) Home Page
  5. The Forum Fisheries Agency Home Page
  6. The Parties to the Nauru Agreement Home Page
  7. The Te Vaka Moana Home Page

Northern Pacific (for Albacore Tuna fishery of the North Pacific)

  1. See the Independent Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-Like Species in the North Pacific Ocean, Albacore Tuna pages.
  2. The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) Home Page - also jointly responsible with the WCPFC for regional management of Albacore Fishery of the South Pacific)


Australia shares some of the tuna resources, and also published comprehensive overview of the status of its fish stocks including for bigeye tuna and yellowfin tuna.

Fisheries management and conservation and management measures

For the latest management decisions and up to date documents on the relevant Conservation and Management Measures (CMM), see the following:

  • Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission: website, and CMMs
  • Indian Ocean Tuna Commission: website, and CMMs.
  • Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (for shared stocks of albacore tuna:): website

Tuna information through the MSC processes

For certified tuna and related fisheries, or those undergoing certification, the Marine Stewardship Council website contains many useful documents. Under the "Track-a-Fishery" tab you will be able to search for fisheries on species, gear, region, etc and find many useful documents from assessment, audits, etc.

Tuna and climate change

The most comprehensive information is in the SPC 2011 book on climate change  - Vulnerability of Tropical Pacific Fisheries and Aquaculture to Climate Change.

The biennial INFOFISH World Tuna Trade Conference and Exhibition in Bangkok (21-23 May 2014) is a good time to check the most up-to-date information on the status of tuna stocks, including those of the Western and Central Pacific and Indian oceans.

Tuna Trade 2012The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation makes this check easier for us. It commissions its Scientific Advisory Committee to overview analyses of the status of status of stocks in all regional fisheries management bodies, and other experts to check stocks against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards.

Status of Stocks

For the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO), skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye and albacore tuna, the status of the stocks are unchanged since the last major update in 2012. Although none of the stocks are currently overfished, concern is expressed for bycatch in certain types of fishing (longline and certain sections of the purse seine fisheries) and the lack of management controls in the equatorial area of the yellowfin fishery and in the bigeye fishery.

In the Indian Ocean, skipack and bigeye status did not change since the last assessments; the yellowfin stock needs reassessment because of recent higher fishing levels; and for albacore the abundance has changed from yellow to green despite that fishing mortality went from yellow to orange. For all stocks, bycatch in purse seine, longline and the large and growing gillnet fisheries is of concern.

Assessment against MSC Standards

The assessments against MSC standards (by experienced assessors) covered the sustainable fish stocks principle (P1) and the effective management principle (P3), but did not do the minimising environmental impact principle (P2). Of the 8 Western and Central Pacific and Indian Ocean stocks assessed, 3 received a passing score on P1, namely WCPO skipjack and Indian Ocean skipjack and yellowfin. Among the regional management organisations, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission was the most highly rated globally, just ahead of Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission.


  • AsiaPacific-FishWatch skipjack profile: SKIPJACK
  • AsiaPacific-FishWatch yellowfin tuna profile: YELLOWFIN TUNA (partially complete)

Two-thirds of the world’s fish are harvested or farmed in the Asia-Pacific region, yet information on the fish is often difficult to find, piecemeal and confusing. The Asian Fisheries Society and its partners set out to break through this critical information barrier by creating AsiaPacific-FishWatch. “We are bringing together essential and authoritative information on who produces the fish, how they are produced, processed, traded, and eventually end up in the diets of people all around the world,” said the President of the Asian Fisheries Society, Professor Huang (President of Shanghai Ocean University, China). “In this project, we welcome feedback from the public and experts, and collaboration from many partners.”

AsiaPacific-FishWatch ( is developing profiles of the most important types of fish and shellfish produced in the Asia-Pacific region, covering the seas, rivers, lakes and farms of the western and central Pacific ocean and the Indian ocean. The profiles are comprehensive and cover sustainability, production, supply chains, environment and climate, and biology. The aim is to explain Asia-Pacific fish products for consumers, the general public, fish exporters and importers, development agencies, fisheries managers and scientists.

P5100116 sm Pasar Berserhati ManadoThe project is launching with the profile of the region’s skipjack tuna fisheries (see skipjack), and will soon be followed by profiles of yellowfin, bigeye and albacore tuna that are in the final stages of preparation. The skipjack fisheries are among the largest fisheries in the world. The western and central Pacific skipjack fishery supplies the majority of the fish for the world canned tuna market. Susan Jackson, President of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) explained: “Skipjack schools make up the last remaining truly robust commercially fished stocks of tuna in the world, and protecting this species is especially vital to the economies of nations in the Asia-Pacific region. In order to build consensus around proactive, sustainable management measures for any species of fish, we must have open-access to the wealth of scientific data that exists. Cataloguing this information also helps us to identify voids, which ultimately promotes improved fishery data collection.”

All information in AsiaPacific-FishWatch is reviewed by the top experts in each commodity and subject. It is non-partisan and does not engage in advocacy. Its content emphasizes information relevant to sustainability and people in the supply chain.




Background Information


Twitter: @AsiaPacFish

For more information Contact:

Dr Meryl J Williams, Director AsiaPacific-FishWatch, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lead agency:

Asian Fisheries Society,

c/o Laboratory Marine Biotechnology, Institute of Bioscience

Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor, MALAYSIA


Skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis, Linnaeus, 1758). Picture: SPC

At the 10th Asian Fisheries and Aquaculture Forum, held from 30 April to 4 May in Yeosu, Korea, I presented a paper on the lessons learned from preparing to soon-to-be released skipjack species profile. The presentation benefited from earlier discussions with Dr Patricia Kailola who undertook most of the preparation of the skipjack profile.

Here is the Abstract, and here is the PPT.