White Tuna / Albacore – Cape Town

C100456 and C100458

The Product

General Name: White Tuna / Albacore – Cape Town


Alternative names: Albacore, Bonito del Norte, longfin tuna, Thon blanc (FR), thon germon (FR)






The fishers

The fishery dates back to the late 1970s, and traditionally targeted yellowfin in the waters around Cape Town before they moved further offshore in 1980. Today, the fleet targets albacore up to 1000km off the South and West coast, catching approximately 3,400 metric tonnes annually. The fleet is comprised of vessels of ranging size, the smallest being approximately 10m, and largest 26m in length. Due to the differences in size, these vessels can undertake trips of varying length, from a few days to a few weeks. Collectively, today’s pole-and-line fleet in South Africa is comprised of over 130 active vessels.

FAO Area: 47. C1 1.5, 1.6. and 2.1


Authority: Fishing vessels are licensed by the South African Maritime Authority and fishing regulations and management are the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and fisheries.

Seasonal information: From October to March

The Method


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

White tuna

Albacore tuna have a life span of 11 to 12 years, but they reach reproductive maturity at around five to six years. At this point, spawning occurs – usually from March to July, but some evidence suggests albacore spawn multiple times a year. During spawning, females produce between 800,000 and 2.6 million eggs, broadcasting them near the sea surface where they are fertilized. The tiny eggs (1 mm in diameter) remain buoyant by an enclosed oil droplet and develop very rapidly after spawning. They hatch within 24 to 48 hours. Juvenile tuna remain in the spawning grounds until their second year when they begin to migrate right across the oceans.

The Location:



Eco-ratings/certifications: Seafood Watch – Best Choice

Resource Management: Fisheries management is conducted by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). The albacore is managed on the precautionary principle with a lower TAC than MSY due to uncertainties surrounding stock status and modelling.

Local Management: Fishing vessels are licensed by the South African government. SATA and SMME who are both members of the IPNLF (international Pole & Line Federation) represent local boats and the locai industy respectively which is made up entirely of small to medium enterprises.

Monitoring & Traceability: Vessel and catch date data registered on landing in Cape Town.

Conservation Measures: The fish stock is not overfished and there is no overfishing. Albacore catches in 2018 were about 17,000 tonnes and the recommended annual catch is 24,000.

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 factory is based in Ria de Arousa on the Galician coast between Vigo and Santiago de Compostela with a front directly onto the harbour.

Production: The South African tuna industry is comprised of vessel owners, processors and exporters, all small to medium businesses and provide good local employment.. It’s a family business across generations. Production is well managed, controlled by local authorities for phyto-sanitary and hygiene issues and involved a lot of careful hand-work. Each lott is tracked as to the fish origins and that of any additional ingredient. Fish4Ever only uses certified organic ingredients: this means the factory is controlled and inspected and only natural processes and ingredients are allowed.

Social factors: No issues. This is a democratic and egalitarian small scale local fishery closely managed by the Canary Island auhtorities. Only pole and line boats fish tuna. No foreign or large industrial pruse seiners are allowed in the Canary Island waters. Local guilds called Cofridias manage the interests of the fishermen to promote the catch, to manage services and to co-operate with the local governance. The factory is a small family owned business based in Galicia with highly regulated (EU) labour standards.

Political factors: No issues.