, Thunnus alalunga
, is a type of tuna
Tuna is a salt water fish from the family Scombridae, mostly in the genus Thunnus. Tuna are fast swimmers, and some species are capable of speeds of . Unlike most fish, which have white flesh, the muscle tissue of tuna ranges from pink to dark red. The red coloration derives from myoglobin, an...
in the family
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...
Scombridae is the family of the mackerels, tunas, and bonitos, and thus includes many of the most important and familiar food fishes. The family consists of about 55 species in 15 genera and two subfamilies...
. This species is also called albacore fish
, albacore tuna
, tombo ahi
, Pacific albacore
, German bonito
(but see bonito
Bonito is a name given to various species of medium-sized, predatory fish in the Scombridae family. First, bonito most commonly refers to species in the genus Sarda, including the Atlantic bonito and the Pacific bonito ; second, in Japanese cuisine, bonito refers to the skipjack tuna , which, in...
), 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 ocean
An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...
s, and the Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...
. 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
Generally, a fishery is an entity engaged in raising or harvesting fish which is determined by some authority to be a fishery. According to the FAO, a fishery is typically defined in terms of the "people involved, species or type of fish, area of water or seabed, method of fishing, class of boats,...
is economically significant. Methods of fishing include pole and line
Angling is a method of fishing by means of an "angle" . The hook is usually attached to a fishing line and the line is often attached to a fishing rod. Fishing rods are usually fitted with a fishing reel that functions as a mechanism for storing, retrieving and paying out the line. The hook itself...
, long-line fishing
Longline fishing is a commercial fishing technique. It uses a long line, called the main line, with baited hooks attached at intervals by means of branch lines called "snoods". A snood is a short length of line, attached to the main line using a clip or swivel, with the hook at the other end....
Trolling is a method of fishing where one or more fishing lines, baited with lures or bait fish, are drawn through the water. This may be behind a moving boat, or by slowly winding the line in when fishing from a static position, or even sweeping the line from side-to-side, e.g. when fishing from...
, 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
A dorsal fin is a fin located on the backs of various unrelated marine and freshwater vertebrates, including most fishes, marine mammals , and the ichthyosaurs...
. The anterior spines are much longer, giving a concave outline to the spiny part of the dorsal fin.
Consumers, albacore, and sustainable fisheries
A number of programs have been developed to help consumers identify and support responsible and sustainable fisheries
Sustainability in fisheries combines theoretical disciplines, such as the population dynamics of fisheries, with practical strategies, such as avoiding overfishing through techniques such as individual fishing quotas, curtailing destructive and illegal fishing practices by lobbying for appropriate...
. Perhaps the most widely accepted of these programs is that of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
. Several albacore fisheries have been certified as sustainable according to MSC standards, including the U.S. North and South Pacific albacore pole and line and troll fisheries ("pole and troll"
), Canadian north Pacific fishery, and the New Zealand troll fishery.
The United States government's "Fishwatch" program seeks to provide consumers with accurate and timely information on U.S. seafood fisheries.
In 2010, Greenpeace International 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."
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. Some groups have urged testing and recall of older canned albacore that may have high mercury levels.
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 than in previous years. 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" ) and tuna steaks to six ounce
The ounce is a unit of mass with several definitions, the most commonly used of which are equal to approximately 28 grams. The ounce is used in a number of different systems, including various systems of mass that form part of the imperial and United States customary systems...
s 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.
Management and stock assessment are applied to separate stocks of albacore believed to occur in the north Pacific
, south Pacific
, Indian Ocean
, north Atlantic
and south Atlantic
SeaChoice is a program of Sustainable Seafood Canada that produces sustainable seafood advisory lists. The program is designed to raise consumer awareness about the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources. It is best known for publishing consumer guides for responsible seafood...
ranks albacore as a "best choice" for consumers, although notes some "moderate concerns" regarding the management effectiveness (in particular, no definitive assessment of the albacore stock of the Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...
fishery has taken place), and "moderate concern" over the fishing stock, especially regarding the North Atlantic albacore population, which the National Marine Fisheries Service
The National Marine Fisheries Service is a United States federal agency. A division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Commerce, NMFS is responsible for the stewardship and management of the nation's living marine resources and their habitat within the...
(NMFS) considers overfished with overfishing still occurring. The southern Atlantic stock is also considered (in 2007) overfished but not currently experiencing overfishing. The North Pacific and South Pacific albacore stocks are not overfished and not experiencing overfishing.
Other species called albacore
In some parts of the world, other species may be called "albacore":
- Blackfin tuna
Blackfin tuna is the smallest tuna species in the Thunnus genus, generally growing to a maximum of in length and weighing 21 kg . Blackfin have oval shaped bodies, black backs with a slight yellow on the finlets, and have yellow on the sides of their body...
Thunnus atlanticus (albacore)
- Yellowfin tuna
The yellowfin tuna is a species of tuna found in pelagic waters of tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide.Yellowfin is often marketed as ahi, from its Hawaiian name ahi although the name ahi in Hawaiian also refers to the closely related bigeye tuna. The species name, albacares can lead to...
Thunnus albacares (albacore, autumn albacore, yellowfinned albacore)
- Yellowtail amberjack
The yellowtail amberjack or great amberjack, Seriola lalandi, is a large fish found in the Pacific and Indian oceans. It can be divided into three sub-species: The California yellowtail, Seriola lalandi dorsalis, the southern yellowtail, or in New Zealand and Australia the yellowtail kingfish or...
Seriola lalandi (albacore)
- Kawakawa Euthynnus affinis (false albacore)
- Little tunny
The little tunny is the most common tuna in the Atlantic Ocean. It is found in warm temperate and tropical waters of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean; in the western Atlantic, it ranges from Brazil to the New England states. It is found regularly in offshore and inshore waters, and is...
Euthynnus alletteratus (false albacore)