Report shows worsening status of Indian Ocean Yellowfin

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                            

Contact:         Erin Grandstaff and Charlie Patterson, +1 202-618-6000

[email protected], [email protected]


Washington, DC – 23 February 2016 – The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) released the latest version of their Status of the Stocks today. The report compiles the scientific records of the different major tuna stocks done by each of the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) into one document, serving as a one-stop resource for comprehensive tuna stock information. The Status of the Stocks Report uses a color rating system to indicate varying degrees of stock heath and ecosystem impact.

The most notable update since the last version released in November 2015 is that Indian Ocean yellowfin stock assessment indicates a decline in status. Overall, catches of Indian Ocean yellowfin have declined by 19% from a record high of 530,000 tonnes in 2004, but seem to be increasing again, especially in purse seine and other fisheries. The stock is estimated to be overfished and overfishing is occurring due to an increase in catch levels in recent years.

Other updates reflected in the latest report include:

  • IATTC, IOTC and CCSBT catch data
  • WCPFC catch data and management
  • Pacific-Wide catch data and management
  • ICCAT catch data and management

About the Report

There are 23 stocks of the major commercial tuna species worldwide – 6 albacore, 4 bigeye, 4 bluefin, 5 skipjack and 4 yellowfin stocks. The Status of the Stocks summarizes the results of the most recent scientific assessments of these stocks, as well as the current management measures adopted by the RFMOs. In addition, this report ranks the status and management of the 23 stocks using a consistent methodology in terms of three factors: Abundance, Exploitation/Management (fishing mortality) and Environmental Impact (bycatch).

In 2014, the catch of major commercial tunas was 5 million tonnes, a 4% increase from 2013. Fifty-seven percent of it was skipjack tuna, followed by yellowfin (27%), bigeye (9%) and albacore (6%). The four stocks of bluefin tuna account for only 1% of the global catch. Different fishing gears are used to catch tunas. Purse seining accounts for 64% of the global tuna catch, followed by longline (12%), pole-and-line (9%), gillnets (4%) and miscellaneous gears (11%).

Globally, 48% of the stocks are at a healthy level of abundance, 39% are overfished and 13% are at an intermediate level. In terms of exploitation, 48% of the stocks are experiencing a low fishing mortality rate and 17% need stronger management to end overfishing.

When viewed from the point of view of total catch, 78% of the catch comes from healthy stocks. This is due to the fact that skipjack stocks contribute more than one half of the global catch of tunas, and they are all in a healthy situation. In contrast, most bluefin stocks and 2 out of 6 albacore stocks are overfished, but combined they make-up a relatively small fraction of the total catch.  In terms of fishing mortality, 13% of the total tuna catch comes from stocks where fishing is not well managed.

ISSF produces two reports annually that seek to provide clarity about where we stand – and how much more needs to be done – to ensure the long-term sustainability of tuna stocks: the Status of the Stocks provides a comprehensive analysis of tuna stocks by species, and the ISSF Analysis of Tuna Fisheries against MSC Performance Indicators provides a snapshot of the health of tuna fisheries by region.

Together, these tools help to define the continuous improvement achieved, as well as the areas and issues that require more attention. Access the newly updated ISSF stock status ratings here.

About the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF)

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is a global coalition of scientists, the tuna industry and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world’s leading conservation organization, promoting science-based initiatives for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks, reducing bycatch and promoting ecosystem health. To learn more, visit their website at