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Bluefin Tuna
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Bluefin Tuna (Eastern Atlantic)

The bluefin tuna is a member of the mackerel family (Scombridae). It can reach more than 3 m in length, and over 500 kg in weight. It is the largest species of tuna, and the largest vertebrate fish on the planet. Bluefin tuna are found throughout the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean; the Black Sea population, however, has become extinct.

Tagging studies have demonstrated that this fast-swimming species can travel up to70 km/h, is able to cross the Atlantic Ocean within 50 days, and dive to depths of 500-1000 m. The front of its body is covered with a hood of fused shells. Its dorsal area is blue-black in color; its sides are a shiny mother-of-pearl color; its belly is white. Eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna spawn during May-June primarily in three locations within the Mediterranean. They reach sexual maturity at around 4 years of age; it then can measure over 1 meter in length. They undergo feeding migration in the Mediterranean and Atlantic; herring, mackerel, and other schooling fish are important prey species. The bluefin tuna itself is a very delicious and highly sought after food fish, and has economic importance throughout in its range of distribution. A single bluefin tuna can be sold for several hundred USD; the world record set in 2012 for a single tuna is an incredible $736,000 USD − sold at Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.

Norway was a major fishing nation on the eastern bluefin tuna from 1950 - 1960's, with catches of 2,000 to 15,000 tons during this period. This species was a regular guest in Norwegian waters until the end of the 1970s; however fewer and fewer bluefin tuna now find their way to our shores.

Facts about Bluefin Tuna

Latin Name: Thunnus thynnus 
Spawning Area: Warm waters (> 24 ° C) on specific and limited locations in the Mediterranean around the Balearic Islands, Sicily, Malta, Cyprus, and Libya.
Growing Area: Mediterranean Sea, coast of Portugal and Bay of Biscay
Maximum Size: Over 3 m / Over 500 kg
Life Span: 20-30 years
Diet: Zooplankton and small fish as juveniles; mature fish prey on schooling fish such as mackerel, herring, and sprat.

Status, advice and fisheries

Reported annual international landings of eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna from 2006 through 2010 show a clear trend of decrease. However, the International Commission for the  Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)  Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS) estimates that catches up to 2007 were likely to on the order of 50,000 to 61,000 tons annually − based on the number of vessels operating in the Mediterranean Sea and their respective catch rates. A shift toward harvesting larger fish has developed during recent years.

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