Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 811–841 | Cite as

Putting all the pieces together: integrating current knowledge of the biology, ecology, fisheries status, stock structure and management of yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares)

  • C. Pecoraro
  • I. Zudaire
  • N. Bodin
  • H. Murua
  • P. Taconet
  • P. Díaz-Jaimes
  • A. Cariani
  • F. Tinti
  • E. Chassot
Research Paper


Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares; YFT) is an apex marine predator inhabiting tropical and sub-tropical pelagic waters. It supports the second largest tuna fishery in the world. Here, we review the available literature on YFT to provide a detailed overview of the current knowledge of its biology, ecology, fisheries status, stock structure and management, at global scale. YFT are characterized by several peculiar anatomical and physiological traits that allow them to survive in the oligotrophic waters of the pelagic realm. They are opportunistic feeders, which allows fast growth and high reproductive outputs. Globally, YFT fisheries have expanded over the last century, progressively moving from coastal areas into the majority of sub-tropical and tropical waters. This expansion has led to a rapid increase in global commercial landings, which are predominantly harvested by industrial longline and purse seine fleets. For management purposes, YFT is divided into four stocks, each of which is currently managed by a separate tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organization. Our current understanding of YFT stock structure is, however, still uncertain, with conflicting evidence arising from genetic and tagging studies. There is, moreover, little information about their complex life-history traits or the interactions of YFT populations with spatio-temporally variable oceanographic conditions currently considered in stock assessments. What information is available, is often conflicting at the global scale. Finally, we suggest future research directions to manage this valuable resource with more biological realism and more sustainable procedures.


Life-history traits Population structure tRFMOs Tuna fishery 



We are grateful to Nick Vogel and Carolina Minte-Vera from IATTC, Peter Williams and John Hampton from SPC, Carlos Palma from ICCAT and James Geehan and David Wilson from IOTC for providing information on tuna fisheries data and data from stock assessment models. We are also grateful to all past and present staff involved in the collection and management of tuna fisheries data around the world. The contribution of Julien Barde was instrumental in managing the fisheries data used in the present analysis. Stefano Mariani and Victor Restrepo made useful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. We are grateful to Peter Grewe, Peta Hill and Manuel Romeo for their help in the analysis of our microsatellite data. We finally thank Richard Brill and an anonymous reviewer for providing constructive feedbacks that greatly improved the manuscript. This paper is contribution no. 799 from AZTI-Tecnalia (Marine Research Division). NB and EC acknowledge support from the French National Research Agency through the EMOTION project (ANR 11 JSV7 007 01).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Pecoraro
    • 1
    • 2
  • I. Zudaire
    • 2
    • 3
  • N. Bodin
    • 2
  • H. Murua
    • 4
  • P. Taconet
    • 2
  • P. Díaz-Jaimes
    • 5
  • A. Cariani
    • 1
  • F. Tinti
    • 1
  • E. Chassot
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences (BiGeA)Alma Mater Studiorum - University of BolognaRavennaItaly
  2. 2.Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), UMR MARBEC (IRD/Ifremer/UM/CNRS)Seychelles Fishing AuthorityVictoriaSeychelles
  3. 3.Ikerbasque FundazioaBilbaoSpain
  4. 4.Marine Research DivisionAZTIPasaiaSpain
  5. 5.Laboratorio de Genética de Organismos Acuáticos, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y LimnologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMexicoMexico

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