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Skipjack Tuna – Azores

c100150, c100151, c100152, C100153, and C100154

The Product

General Name: Skipjack Tuna – Azores

Latin Name: Katsuwonus pelamis

Alternative names: Ocean Bonito, Lesser Tuna, Aku, Katsuo

 


The fishers

34 individually owned tuna boats are part of Apasa (the tuna boat association) in the Azores and catch the majority of the tuna fished in the islands of Azores and Madeira. These islands are located to the south-west of Portugal in the direction of the Americans and are stopping off point for trans-Atlanic journeys.

FAO Area: FAO 27.10.A.2

Port: All the islands have government auction and freezer facilities where the tuna is landed

Authority: Government of Azores

Seasonal information: Typically skipjack fishing is from July through to October when the waters warm.


The Method

Pole&Line

Pole-and-line fishing catches skipjack and younger tunas of other species which swim near the surface of the sea. It's the most iconic one-by-one fishing method and basically involves rods just as a recreational fisher would use. Tuna are hooked on lines and either swung on deck (eg Maldives) or un-hooked by hand (eg the Azores). The same fishing vessels will first catch small pelagics to use as baitfish, usually at night. The baitfish are transfered live into water tanks and once the tuna is located they are scattered into the sea to attract tuna. This is called “chumming.” Vessels will sprinkle water at the same time to simulate a feeding frenzy without actually over-feeding the tuna or wasting the bait. There is an art in trying to keep the tuna school located around and underneath the boat so it can be fished for a longer period and pole and line boats will often co-operate when a school of tuna has been found.

The Species

Skipjack tuna

Skipjack is the most common tuna in the world's oceans. It's a tropical warm water tuna, small in size, spawning continuously, fecund, fast growing and fast swimming. Skipjack grows to around 80cm in length and can reach up to 8 to 10kg in weight. In volume terms skipjack is one of the most important fisheries in the world with stocks generally regarded as being in a healthy state - although the sustainability of the fishing methods, fishing impact and socio-economic factors is hotly debated with big disputes even amongst different definitions of sustainable fishing.

The Location:

EASTERN CENTRAL ATLANTIC

Sustainability

Eco-ratings/certifications: Naturland and Friends of the Sea certified

Resource Management: Fisheries management is conducted by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

Local Management: Local Ministry of Fisheries in Azores devolved government with close support form the University marine department based in Horta

Monitoring & Traceability: At least half trips monitored with independent observer from the POPA program linked to the Azores university. All landing strictly monitored and recorded in Locator, government landing/auction and storage facilities.

Conservation Measures: The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) manage skipjack right across the Atlantic Ocean. Whlist status of the stock is regarded as being in a “good” condition by both ICCAT and the ISSF there is absolutely no doubt that the dominant purse seine fishing fleets are taking “too much fish”. Purse seiners fish all along the coast of Africa, with the majority of the catch in the Gulf of Guinea opposite Ghana and the Ivory Coast. They deploy thousands of (FAD’s) Fish Aggregating Devices which attract fish and other marine life but also disturb the natural biological behaviour of tuna who are attracted to the FAD’s. As a result the amount of tuna going further North, to Senegal, Canary Islands and the Azores has been compromised. If ICCAT was doing it’s job properly it would reduce the industrial fishing, support and promote artisanal and coastal fisheries. Guess what: ICCAT is not doing it’s job properly!

By-catch/discard: Pole and line fishing is a one by one highly targetted surface method of fishing with very little interaction with other marine species.

Endangered Species: No impact.

Eco-system damage: No impact.

How is it made?

The global tuna industry generally operates a double processing system where fish is first processed near where it is landed, butchered, the skin and bones removed, it is then frozen a second time and sold as “frozen tuna loins.” The loins are processed by a cannery somewhere else entirely which will then de-freeze the loins and can them. At Fish4Ever we feel quality is affected and traceability could be compromised without visually been able check the fishing method. This is why our tuna is ALWAYS processed from the whole fish.

Production: Our Azores tuna is packed and processed in the island of Sao Jorge, by a local cannery which is the most important employer on this remote island. During the fishing season, tuna is sometimes landed a hundred metres away from the factory which overlooks the straits and the Pico volcano mountain top (the highest peak in Portugal). Most the time the tuna is purchased via Locator, the Azores government freezing company. Our tuna is always processed from the whole fish.

Social factors: Naturland certification checks and audits social criteria as well as the sustainability of the fishing. Our tuna employs local boats, democratically owned by local fishers who go out fishing themselves. The factory only works with the local tuna and is also a key employer for the island with high employment standards right across the board.

Political factors: No issues.