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For more information on
Albacore tuna fishing,
please contact Carol Henry.

Report a Poacher or Other Violation

Fishing Hotline
360-902-2500

Shellfish Rule
Change Hotline

1-866-880-5431

More Hotline Information...

For more information on
fishing, please contact the
WDFW Fish Program.
360-902-2700
Fish Program District Biologists

For fishing regulation
questions, e-mail us at:
fishregs@dfw.wa.gov

For all other questions and comments, e-mail us at:
fishpgm@dfw.wa.gov

 

 
Albacore Tuna
Average Catch Distribution of Commercially caught Albacore in 2008
Average Catch Distribution
of Commercially caught
Albacore in 2008

Commercial Fishery

Fishermen in Washington State have been harvesting albacore tuna commercially for over 100 years. The majority of albacore landed into Washington are caught almost exclusively by trollers. Trollers fish for albacore by towing a number of lures or jigs behind the vessel at speeds of up to 8 knots. Since albacore can swim over 50 mph they have no problem catching a jig that is being towed at 8 knots (9.2 mph). Fishing typically takes place 50 to 100 nautical miles offshore in warm currents that travel up to Washington and Oregon. The majority of the catch landed into Washington is caught south of Washington. About 20% of the landed catch is actually caught in the waters off the Washington Coast.

COMMERCIAL VALUE

Up to 8,500 metric tons of albacore are landed into Washington annually by commercial fishermen. In 2008, 6,300 metric tons were landed into Washington which is very similar to 2007 landings. The average price of albacore in 2008 was $1.14 per pound although, in previous years, the average price per pound ranged form $0.61 to $0.98 per pound.


Commercially caught Albacore landed into Washington State 2002-2008
Commercially caught Albacore
landed into Washington State 2002-2008
Value of commercially caught Albacore landed into Washington
Value of commercially caught
Albacore landed into Washington

 

2008 Albacore Value compared to other commercially caught fish
2008 Albacore Value compared
to other commercially caught fish

Albacore landed into Washington was valued at $15.9 million in 2008. Oysters and Dungeness crab were the only other commercially harvested fish/shellfish which exceeded the value of albacore. Oysters were valued at $18.5 million and Dungeness crab at $37.5 million. The value of albacore has fluctuated over the last five years. In 2005, the average price of albacore landed into Washington was around $0.98 per pound with a total value of $9.8 million but, in 2006, the average price of albacore was $0.78 per pound with a total value of $14.7 million.

LANDINGS

In 2008, commercially caught albacore were landed into 26 ports and cities in Washington with 97% of landings occurring in Westport and in the Ilwaco/Chinook area. Even though 61% of albacore landings occurred in Westport in 2008, that was not always the case. Traditionally Ilwaco has the greatest amount of albacore delivered into port.


2008 Albacore Landings by Port
2008 Albacore Landings by Port
Albacore Landings
Albacore Landings

Because of the health benefits of eating fish high in omega-3, albacore has become increasingly popular with the general public. Troll-caught albacore are less than six years old and tend to spend much of their time living and feeding in the upper water column and in slightly cooler waters. Older albacore, six years and older, spend more of their time in the deeper waters of the tropics. This behavior difference in albacore creates a marketing difference between troll caught albacore and albacore caught on longlines.

The younger albacore, which are caught by trollers, are smaller and have a higher fat content than older albacore. Troll caught albacore have higher omega-3 levels because of their high fat content and tend to have a higher quality meat because they are young. Older albacore tend to be larger in size and have a lower fat content which translates into lower omega-3 levels. It is also said that older albacore have higher mercury content than young, troll-caught albacore.