White tuna / Albacore – Biscay

C100233, C100254, C100256, C100257, C100264, C100299, C100450, C100466, C100473, C100488, CON017, CON018, CON023, CON057, CON058, CON059, and CON060

The Product

General Name: White tuna / Albacore – Biscay


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






The fishers

White tuna in the north of Spain is prized as bonito del norte, a fast moving highly migratory tuna species that swims in cooler waters. The MSC-certified pole-and-line fishing fleet consists of 42 vessels belonging to two Spanish producer organizations: Organización de productores de pesca de bajura de Guipuzcoa (OPEGUI) and Organización de Productores de pesca de bajura de Bizkaia (OPESCAYA).The fish from July through September, and stay out to see for a maximum of 15 to 20 days.

FAO Area: FAO 27 8.c

Port: Laredo in Cantabria, North Spain

Authority: The local fishing authorities of Cantabria in Northern Spain

Seasonal information: White tuna is a highly migratory (and rapid) species which travels from Bermuda in the Atlantic all the way to the Bay of Biscay in Northern Spain where it is fished between the beginning July to the end of September

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:

Bay of Biscay, Spain


Eco-ratings/certifications: Marine Stewardship Council – Certified, Seafood Watch – Best Choice

Resource Management: ICCAT (The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna) is one of the world’s big RFMO’s (Regional Fisheries Management Organisations) which manages the tuna resource because tuna is a fish stock which stretches across large areas of the oceans. ICCAT provides science, conducts regular stock assessments, oversees conservation issues and recommends solutions. Participants or signatories are the interested parties i.e. countries with a fishing stake in the resource.

Local Management: This fishery is managed by the Secretaría General de Pesca of Spain under the auspices of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

Monitoring & Traceability: In Spain no landing is allowed outside of government controlled auction houses where fish catch details are logged and tracked. Each boat is licensed and controlled as to catch quantities by the fishing authorities working on site. This is a coastal/local fishery operating just in the Bay of Biscay/Cantabrian-N Spanish coast line.

Conservation Measures: According to both the MSC and the ISSF the white tuna fishery stock is fished sustainably. There is an annual total allowable catch (TAC). Baitfish population is not a concern.

By-catch/discard: Pole and line is the most highly selective and targeted method

Endangered Species: Insignificant

Eco-system damage: White tuna is a pelagic fish, there is no damage to the sea bottom and limited interaction with other species.

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 production supports local fishers and employs local people in the cannery. 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 authorities. 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.