ISSF 2020-14: A Snapshot of the Large-Scale Tropical Tuna Purse Seine Fishing Fleets as of June 2020*

Date Added: June 11, 2020
Downloaded: 532 times
Tags: Capacity Management, Justel-Rubio, Purse Seine, Recio, RFMOs, Tuna
Authors: Ana Justel-Rubio, Lorena Recio
Language: English
report_type: Technical Report


Purse seine vessels account for about 66% of the world’s tuna catch. However, the number of purse seiners operating in the various oceans is not available from a single source.

In this paper, we estimate the number and fishing capacity of authorized tuna purse seiners based primarily on information available from the five tuna Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs). After accounting for possible duplicate entries, we calculate that as of June 2020 there are at least 1,721 purse seiners fishing for tunas worldwide. This is surely an underestimate because many small-scale purse seiners or purse seiners operating in only one EEZ do not have to be listed on RFMO records of authorized fishing vessels.

Focusing on large-scale purse seiners (defined here as having 335 m3  fish hold volume or greater) that target tropical tunas (skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye), we calculate there are 696 such vessels with a combined fishing capacity of over 874,000 m3. The number of these vessels increased by about 1.5% during the past year.

Of those 696 large scale purse seine vessels fishing for tropical tunas, 517 are registered on the ISSF Pro Active Vessel Register (PVR), which represent 74% in number and 83% in fish hold volume (FHV). About 17% of these 696 large-scale vessels are authorized to fish in more than one RFMO, which should be taken into account in any efforts to manage fishing capacity at a regional level.