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Atlantic Bonito
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Atlantic Bonito

The Atlantic bonito is a mackerel-like fish in the Scombrid family. It can reach 90 cm in length and weigh up to 10 kg.

Its dorsal area is dark blue with black lines extending from its dorsal fin down and forward to its abdomen. Its lateral sides are silvery with shades of green and light blue. This species is widespread throughout the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and the Black Sea. Atlantic bonito spawn in the spring during May-June.  

Subsequently, they embark upon feeding migrations in the Mediterranean and Atlantic. Mackerel, sand eels, sardines, anchovies, other schooling fish species, and squid are important prey species. They occur at depths extending to 200 m, temperature ranging from 12-27 °C, at salinities between 14 and 39 ppt. They reach sexually maturity at approximately 2 years of age.

Status and Advice

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS) currently has no management advice for small species of tuna such as Atlantic bonito (Sarda sarda). However, several regional and national regulatory frameworks exist. Knowledge about the biology and fisheries for small tuna species is fragmented in several areas, and differs in quality depending on the species. Five of the ten species of small tuna comprise roughly 88% of total catch, and Atlantic bonito is one of these five species. Total catch of Atlantic bonito was about 15,000 tons in 2010.


Atlantic bonito are mainly exploited by coastal fisheries that are often of traditional. The species is particularly important in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, where several methods are used to harvest this species, including: tuna fish traps; nets; purse seines; hooks; and hand lines. This species is also a popular sport fish. It has been caught primarily as by-catch in the mackerel fishery conducted in Norwegian waters during 2010 and 2011. The average size of individuals captured was approximately 1.5 kg. Atlantic bonito is a tasty and desirable food fish, and is marked both fresh and in cans.  It has substantial economic importance throughout its range of distribution in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.



Facts about the Atlantic Bonito

Scientific name: Sarda Sarda (Bloch 1793)
Spawning area: Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Sea from May to July.
Growing area: Mediterranean
Maximum size: 90 cm and 11 kg
Lifespan: 5 years
Diet: Zooplankton at first, then the most schooling fish such as mackerel, sand eels, sardines and anchovies, as well as squid in adulthood.

Map of distribution

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