Albacore Tuna
Albacore Tuna














T. alalunga

Binomial name:

Thunnus alalunga

The albacore, Thunnus alalunga, is a type of tuna in the family Scombridae. This species is also called albacore fish, albacore tuna, albicore, longfin, albies,pigfish, tombo ahi, binnaga, Pacific albacore, German bonito (but see bonito),longfin tuna, longfin tunny, or even just tuna. It is the only tuna species which may be marketed as "white meat tuna" in the United States.

It is found in the open waters of all tropical and temperate oceans, and theMediterranean Sea. Lengths range up to 140 cm (4.5 feet) and weights up to 45 kg(99 lb).

Albacore is a prized food, and the albacore fishery is economically significant. Methods of fishing include pole and line, long-line fishing, trolling, and some purse seining. It is also sought after by sport fishers.

The pectoral fins of the albacore are very long, as much as 50% of the total length. The dorsal spines are 8 to 10 in number, and well forward of the rays of the dorsal fin. The anterior spines are much longer, giving a concave outline to the spiny part of the dorsal fin.

Consumers, albacore, and sustainable fisheriesEdit

A number of programs have been developed to help consumers identify and support responsible and sustainable fisheries. Perhaps the most widely accepted of these programs is that of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

The Marine Stewardship Council, after extensive review of available science, declared the U.S. North and South Pacific albacore pole and line and troll fisheries ("pole and troll") as the only certified sustainable tuna fisheries in the world. However, the MSC is currently (2010) studying the possibility of certifying the Maldives islands pole and line fishery for skipjack, bigeye and yellowfin tunas. Some other artisanal and semi-artisanal pole and line and handline fisheries around the world are also potentially certifiable.[2]

U.S. albacore vessels are eligible for the MSC certification through a certification-sharing program administered by the American Albacore Fishing Association.

Products from MSC certified sustainable fisheries are readily identifiable by the MSC's distinctive blue and white "eco-label".

The MSC certification program establishes that the seafood product is traceable to the certified sustainable fishery.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch has a consumer education program to raise awareness about the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources. This program recommends which seafoods to buy or avoid, and help consumers to become advocates for environmentally friendly seafood.

The mission of the Aquarium's Seafood Watch program is to empower consumers and businesses to make choices for healthy oceans. Helpful publications and guides are available upon request.

The NOAA Fishwatch program aims to provide concise fishery information to consumers. FishWatch can help consumers make informed decisions about the seafood they eat.

The government's Fishwatch program seeks to provide consumers with accurate and timely information on U.S. seafood fisheries.NOAA Fishwatch - Pacific albacore

In 2010, Greenpeace International has added the Albacore 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."[3]

Mercury levelsEdit

See also: Mercury in fish

Like other fish, albacore accumulates methylmercury in body tissue over time. Methylmercury is removed from the body naturally, but it may take over a year for the levels to drop significantly. Thus, it may remain in a woman from before she becomes pregnant. The average canned albacore "white" or "solid" tuna is 0.35 ppm of methylmercury.[4][5] Some groups[who?] have urged testing and recall of older canned albacore that may have high mercury levels.[citation needed]

Recent studies from the U.S. and Canada show that the albacore caught by the American albacore fishing fleet off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California have far lower mercury levels.[6] The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises women of childbearing age and children to limit their consumption of albacore tuna ("chunk white" or "solid white" canned tuna) and tuna steaks to six ounces per week or less. However, the FDA advisory does not distinguish the albacore caught off the West Coast from albacore caught in other parts of the world.[citation needed]


The Monterey Fish Market Seafood Sustainability Advisory list claims that fishery researchers generally agree that the North Pacific albacore population is healthy stocked at the current time. The list considers the North Pacific albacore fishery to be "eco-friendly", in that there is very little by-catch and no impact on fishery habitat. Also, unlike some other tuna species, albacore do not usually swim with dolphins - and for this reason there is not a dolphin-associated albacore fishery anywhere in the world.[7]

SeaChoice ranks albacore as a "best choice" for consumers, although notes some "moderate concerns" regarding the management effectiveness (in particular, no definitive survey of the albacore stock of the Indian Ocean fishery has taken place), and "moderate concern" over the fishing stock, especially regarding the North Atlantic albacore population, which the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) considers overfished with overfishing still occurring. The southern Atlantic stock is not considered overfished. The North Pacific and South Pacific albacore stocks are not overfished and not experiencing overfishing.[8]

Other species called albacoreEdit

In some parts of the world, other species may be called "albacore":


  1. ^ Uozumi (1996). Thunnus alalunga. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 12 May 2006.
  2. ^ "All Maldivian yellowfin, bigeye and skipjack tuna fisheries enter MSC assessment". Retrieved 2010-02-10.
  3. ^ Greenpeace International Seafood Red list
  4. ^ "What You Need to Know about Mercury in Fish and Shellfish". US EPA. Retrieved 2009-10-15.
  5. ^ "Draft Risk and Benefit Report: Section II, Exposure to Methylmercury in the United States". FDA. Retrieved 2009-10-15.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Our Advisory List". Monterey Fish Market. Retrieved 2007-02-21.
  8. ^ "Tuna: Albacore". SeaChoice. Retrieved 2007-02-21.