Skipjack is the primary species found in our “light meat” tuna products. Skipjack are small tunas averaging between 3 and 12 pounds with relatively dark meat. These smaller tuna are fast growing and abundant and swim in large schools in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans near the equator. Well over 2 million metric tons of skipjack, representing over half of all tuna, are caught annually. The majority of skipjack is caught in the tropical waters of the western and central Pacific Ocean.
The light meat products may also contain yellowfin and bigeye, although this is not very common. Yellowfin are larger tuna ranging in size from 8 to 350 pounds and next to skipjack are the most commonly caught tuna representing about one quarter of all tuna caught each year. Like skipjack, they swim in schools near the equator of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
Purse seining is the most common method of catching both skipjack and yellowfin tuna. Purse seine fishing for tuna accounts for nearly 2/3’s of the world’s tuna catch. This type of gear uses a net set vertically in the water. When a school of tuna is located, the purse seine vessel encircles the school and traps them in the net by linking back up with a smaller vessel, referred to as a skiff, which holds the other end of the net. The crew uses a winch to close the bottom of the net by pulling a chain that is looped through rings at the bottom of the net, and then the closed net, with the fish trapped inside, is rolled close to the side of the purse seiner. Once alongside the vessel, the fish is ‘scooped’ out of the net and transferred into storage wells filled with refrigerated sea water where the fish is ultimately frozen. Purse seine fishing is extremely efficient and consistently enables fishers to catch and freeze large quantities of tuna that swim in schools.
Click here to see the status of the global tuna stocks http://iss-foundation.org/science/status-of-the-stocks/