TUNNIES & MACKEREL (North-east Atlantic Ocean)
(Notes, not a comprehensive information page.)
Tunnies, or Tuna, used to be found in sufficient numbers to make the North Sea, especially off Scarborough, an area famous for captures of the massive Blue-fin Tunny, Thunnus thynnus. In 1933 an angler caught the British record specimen of 386 kg (851 lb) from a Whitby boat. It is a widespread and found in all the warmer oceans but its previous occurrence into the North Sea during the autumn was dependent on the water temperature and other variables.
Norwegian seas supported a Bluefin Tunny fishery with an annual catch of 900 tonnes annually between 1950 and 1954. The minimum size was about 50 kg. Book. Now they have an allocation for 37.5 tonnes allocated to one boat.
Most Bluefin in the north-east
Atlantic breed in the western Mediterranean and are now rare captures in
the North Sea. They were first reported by herring fishermen in 1911. They
are always larger older fish at least 5 years old. Their current absence
in the North Sea and decline since the early 1960ís was at first because
of low recruitment rates (whether natural or because of overfishing), but
may now be compounded by extensive fishing for the younger 3 to 5 year
old fish off the Atlantic coasts of Europe, including the Bay of Biscay.
At least three Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, at Tiumpan, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, were very active jumping completely clear of the calm sea between 11.05 - 11.15 am, about 800 metes east of the lighthouse.
We had a great sighting of a huge Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, in Torbay. It fully breached twice right by our boat. About 8 ft long a good 500 lb, it was bigger than an adult Common Dolphin.
7 October 2019
A large Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, was videotaped off Cornwall.
Photograph by Ashley Wright
A 50 cm long Skipjack Tuna, Katsuwonus pelamis (=Euthynnus), was discovered stranded up dead on Par Beach, Cornwall. This is a rarely caught species with the nearest fishery in the Bay of Biscay.
Photographs by Sanday Ranger
The third Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, to wash up in Scotland in 2018 landed dead on Bea Sand in Sanday, Orkney.
18 November 2018
A large three metre long Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, was washed ashore at Traigh Mhor, Tolstar, on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. It was alive when discovered but died shortly afterwards.
31 October 2018
Fraser Hynd from Torryburn spotted a two metre long Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, on the beach at Culross in Fife while out walking with his wife Abigail.
Long-term occurrence of Atlantic bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus in the North Sea: Contributions of non-fishery data to population studies
& 3 September 2017
Mark Evans and skipper Rob Rennie, from Tiers Cross, spent two hours reeling in the 244 kg Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, after it was caught accidentally during a shark fishing trip from Neyland, (Milford Haven estuary) south-west Wales.
"After posing for photographs with the prize, the tuna was then returned to the water and swam away," they said. It was the second giant tuna to be caught in the area in just two days. Andrew Alsop caught and released a Bluefin Tuna weighing about 225 kg during a fishing trip from Neyland.
29 August 2017
with a huge shoal of Pilchards at Penzance
Henley Spiers Photography
"On the way out to see the Blue Sharks we came across an incredibly rare sight, a sardine bait ball being feasted on by birds and Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus. The action was fast and furious and over in just moments, but luckily we were able to jump in and get a few shots!"
16 August 2017
A feeding frenzy by a school of Tuna was witnessed off Falmouth, Cornwall. This was only the first of numerous reports of feeding shoals of Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, off the coasts of Cornwall and Wales.
Tuna: click on the image for a video by Beach & Boat Fishing facebook
24 August 2015
Two Atlantic Bonito, Sarda sarda, were caught by a netter out of Newlyn and sold in Plymouth Fish Market. There were other reports of these migratory fish caught, notably off Padstow, also on the north Cornish coast.
A shoal of over five hundred Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, was spotted off the coast of Cornwall. The shoal was spotted by Duncan and Hannah Jones who described the sea as heaving with these large predatory fish. British fishing vessels would not be allowed to target this protected species but French or Spanish vessels might be able to land them legally. A shoal of this size has not been seen for over 50 years.
We were feathering for Mackerel about one and half miles south of Plymouth Breakwater when my friend Karl Eastwood. caught an Atlantic Bonito, Sarda sarda.
Report & Photograph by Jon Harris
A Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, was spotted swimming around a boat off Start Point, south Devon, by a fishing vessel laying pots. The video showed the top dorsal fin to be a yellow but the anal fin is not extra elongate which would be found in the Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares, so it is a Bluefin.
Late August & September 2014
Atlantic Bonito, Sarda sarda, were caught with some frequency in the English Channel. Reports have been received of at least thirteen caught in waters close to Guernsey and three from around the island of Sark, but judging by facebook references I think more have been caught.
Photographs by Jon Ashworth
Bonito, caught in the Mackerel handline fishery in Cornwall, have been seen in Newlyn Fish Market, Cornwall, and one was recorded at Cawsand, south Devon,and others as far east as Dorset. This warm water fish is a slightly smaller fish seen amongst the Mackerel shoals and has been seen on occasions before, but there seems to be more of them this year. NB: In past years larger Tuna have been amongst the Mackerel even as far east as off the Sussex coast.
12 July 2014
An enormous Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, washed up freshly dead at Kingsand, Rame Peninsula, Cornwall. It was measured at nearly 2.2 metres.
17 June 2014
A dead and scavenged Tuna was found washed up in the Fleet, Dorset. The fish was in too worn condition to identify it to species. Tuna are an uncommon visitor in summer in the English Channel.
26 September 2013
A three metres long 234 kg (515 lb) Bluefin Tuna Thunnus thynnus was landed caught and landed at Tarbert, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland.
The Western Atlantic stock of Bluefin Tuna is on the Red List as critically endangered. It is illegal to catch and land this species of fish in the UK. (It was landed in Ireland.)
Bluefin Tuna Thunnus thynnus have been spotted chasing Mackerel off the Outer Hebrides including one jumping out of the sea.
19 September 2013
A rarely caught Skipjack Tuna, Katsuwonus pelamis (=Euthynnus), in English seas was accidentally stranded on a Devon beach near Budleigh Salterton. Leo Curtis and friend Ian Carrott had been fishing on the beach when they spotted the 60 cm long fish in 15 cm of water in the River Otter estuary. Skipjack are the smallest and most common of all the tunnies but they are native to tropical seas. This is the first record on the BMLSS News Pages.
"There have been angling catches of the south-west coast of Ireland and stranding reports on Scottish western island shores in the past."
18 May 2013
A tunny was discovered freshly dead on the shore at Babbacombe, near Torquay, south Devon. Although reported as a Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares, the absence of the yellow on the anal finlets and the short first few rays of the anal fin indicates it is unlikely to be the Yellowfin, more likely to be a protected Bluefin Tuna Thunnus thynnus. The fish was not measured but I have estimated its length (excluding fins) to be 1.7 metres.
"A giant Bluefin Tuna caught yards off the South Devon coast has been seized and put on ice by government officials shortly before it was due to be sold at auction.
The 300 lb fish which is potentially worth tens of thousands of £ pounds was taken by officials from the Marine Management Organisation, part of Defra, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The species is critically endangered and it is illegal to catch or sell them in British waters."
Western Morning News Update
26 September 2012
John Shuker landed an Atlantic Bonito, Sarda sarda, off Sark weighing 5 lb. 15 oz 4 drams.
Early August 2012
When Mitchell Burkes (from Godstone, Surrey) was walking along the beach at Ventnor near the southern tip of the Isle of Wight, he spotted at injured Tuna washed up on the beach still alive.
"I returned it to the water and it seemed to recover, however about an hour later it beached itself again. On inspection it appeared to have tooth marks near the head and I guess it must have been hit by a Dolphin or Porpoise. When gutting the fish, it contained a small undigested Mackerel, which indicates it was in good health when hit and
weighed 6½ lb (2.95 kg). I have had the fish identified as a Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares, not native to the waters around the Island."
NB: The image (not copyright cleared) looks more like a Bluefin Tuna Thunnus thynnus, to me. The second dorsal fin was small and not elongate and the pectoral fin is short as well. Small specimens of this Tuna have been reported occasionally in Mackerel shoals from the English Channel over the years. AH.
23 November 2011
I regularly receive reports of Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares, being caught, landed or stranded. However, they usually turn out to be Bluefin Tuna Thunnus thynnus, the confusion arising from the finlets along the back from the dorsal fins to the base of the tail, which are yellow in the three larger species of tuna which can occur in British and Irish waters. These are dull yellow in Bigeye Tuna Thunnus obesus, yellow in bluefins and bright yellow in yellowfins. Adult tunas can be identified with a bit of experience Ė yellowfins have long sickle-shaped second dorsal and anal fins; bigeyes have a moderately long pectoral fin and larger eye; bluefins have a short pectoral fin. However, in younger tuna these features are not so distinctive and identification can be very difficult. A gill raker count will separate bluefin (34-43) from the other two (YF 26-34; or BE 23-31).
Photographs by Nigel Jones
Wednesday 23 November 2011
Nigel Jones found and photographed a 6í (1.8 m) tuna at Dunraven Bay, near Porthcawl, South Wales. The photographs showed it to be a yellowfin, that had been washed up dead. Unfortunately, it was at the foot of a high cliff and it was not possible to collect the fish; also when Mr Jones returned today to take some measurement and further examine the animal, it could not be found. Presumably it had been taken out to sea again by the present exceptional tides.
This is the second yellowfin that I am aware of to have been recorded in Wales, and the third in British and Irish waters. The first of the previous specimens was found stranded on the mudflats of the Dwyryd Estuary, Wales, on 15 October 1972 (Wheeler, 1985) and the second, a juvenile, was caught c. 110 km off Landís End, Cornwall on 7 August 2006 (which I initially misidentified as a bigeye). Only three bigeyes have been identified - Newlyn 1985, Christchurch 2004 and Burry Port (Llanelli) 2006. Bluefin, whilst being uncommon is a much more frequently encountered fish with a number being reported this year along the south coast from Portland to west of the Isles of Scilly.
20 August 2011
Colin Huelin caught an Atlantic Bonito, Sarda sarda, weighting 5 lb 2 oz 5 drams or 2.333 kg, on Mackerel tackle, from the Corbière area, the extreme south-western point of Jersey.
4 August 2011
A Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, was speared by a diver fisherman off Dorset, one of two seen.
21 November 2010
Guernsey commercial fisherman Peter Merrien landed a fish he had never seen before while fishing for Bass, Dicentrarchus labrax, near Hanois Lighthouse off the south-west coast of Guernsey. He caught an Atlantic Bonito, Sarda sarda, which is a member of the tuna family, Scombridae. It had a total weight of 1716 grams, a total length of 53.7 cm and a fork length of 50.8 cm.
29 August 2010
Two Atlantic Bonito, Sarda sarda, were landed at Plymouth and put on sale at the fish market. They were caught by the Mevagissey F.V. Iris in a pelagic set net. Together they weighed 3.6 kg and their fork lengths were 52 cm and 50 cm.
Atlantic Bonito, Sarda sarda, seem to be unusually a common around the south-west of England with reports probable sightings of small groups of small tuna by anglers and fishermen off the South Cornwall coast from June onwards, reports of single fish being landed at Brixham and Newlyn, and two at Clovelly.
The Irish status of the Atlantic Bonito is that of an irregular migrant, but recently this southern fish have been showing up regularly off the Irish coast. Alwynne Wheeler records the fish as a regular migrant of the British southern coasts in summer and very common further south where it supports a regular fishery of the Spanish coast.
This summer we have seen many reports that Atlantic Bonito, Sarda sarda, has been caught along the southern part of the Norwegian coast. Bonito is a fish that lives in warmer waters and it is seldom seen in Norway, but this summer lots of them have visited Norway. In July five specimens were caught in Ryfylke in a ring net. UWPhoto was lucky to photograph one of the fishes and also tasted this rare fish. "We can report that it tasted fantastic."
UWPhoto Report & Photograph on Facebook
A metre long Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, jumped 30 cm clear of the sea in the vicinity of a fishing boat seven miles off Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, in the early afternoon on a sunny day. It was speculated that this tunny (which is now rare in British seas) followed the large shoals of fish in, which in turn attracted the fishing vessel. "As it left the water I was able to catch sight of its gleaming multi-coloured sides of the the torpedo-shaped fish and the small pre-caudal triangular finlets appeared dark blue. Its weight was estimated to be about 12 kg."
29 October 2008
A small 12.6 kg tuna, discovered in Plymouth Fish market in the morning, was caught in gill net off Mevagissey, south Cornwall. It was identified as a small Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus.
was originally though to be the rarer Big-eyed
Notes on ID by Doug Herdson
25 October 2008
A one metre long Albacore, Thunnus alalunga, was found washed ashore at the head of Loch Long in the Firth of Clyde, south-west Scotland. This pelagic, oceanic and migratory fish In the Scombridae family of Tunnies and Mackerel is usually found in large shoals in the mid-Atlantic in temperate and tropical waters in a more southerly latitude of British Isles and in the Mediterranean Sea. This is the first record on the BMLSS News Pages. The identity of this fish has not been confirmed. It may be another Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus.
Image (by Davy Holt)
A Chub Mackerel, Scomber colias, was delivered to me alive, caught in the sea off Guernsey. I photographed it and weighed it on my digital scales at 587 grams. Earlier in the day it was weighed on the approved angling scales at 1 lb 5 oz 7 drams. Total length was 41.0 cm to tip of upper lobe of caudal fin. Total length to a line draw between tips of caudal fin was 40.2 cm and fork length was 37.3 cm.
Report and Photograph by Richard Lord (Guernsey)
31 July 2007
Commercial fisherman Dougal Lane caught an Atlantic Bonito, Sarda sarda, about three miles east of Sark, Bailiwick of Guernsey. The fish had a length of 511 mm and a whole weight of 1331 grams.
An Atlantic Chub (or Spanish) Mackerel, Scomber colias, caught about 8 miles south-east of Guernsey on the Guernsey side of the Guernsey/Jersey median using squid bait The black belly spots had faded completely.
weighed 392 grams
the classical taxonomy, three Scomber species are distinguished: S.
scombrus, S. australasicus,
and S. japonicus.
Yet, some fish taxonomists have recently recognized Scomber
colias, inhabiting the Atlantic Ocean,
as a separate species from S. japonicus,
distributed in the Pacific Ocean. Such proposal was based on significant
mitochondrial DNA divergence as well as great phenotypic variation among
individuals from these two ocean basins. However, in the absence of nuclear
DNA data this issue remains still controversial. In this study, a phylogenetic
analysis of nuclear 5S rDNA sequences was performed. A total of 30 individuals
of S. colias
collected in the Atlantic and 34 specimens of S.
japonicus from the Pacific were characterized.
Moreover, nine individuals of Pacific S.
australasicus and eight of Atlantic S.
scombrus were included. Maximum likelihood,
maximum parsimony, and neighbor-joining analyses revealed the presence
of two well-supported distinct clades corresponding to S.
colias and S.
japonicus, respectively. Altogether, morphologic
and genetic data are in agreement with the recognition of two different
species, S. colias
in the Atlantic, and S. japonicus
in the Pacific.
An unusual discovery of a fresh but dead 27 kg (60 lb) Tuna was found on a soft mud bank at Burry Port, Carmarthenshire, south Wales, by local angler Nick Roberts and it was pulled ashore with some difficulty by three teenagers. The exact species is not known at present: the most likely species is the Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus.
7 August 2006
A vagrant 18 kg (40 lb) Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares (originally identified as a Big-eyed Tuna, Thunnus obesus), was a rare capture by a commercial net fisherman 70 miles off Land's End and 2,000 miles adrift of its usual habitat in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. It was only the second capture on record from British seas.
7 October 2005
A 10 kg Tuna was discovered in a crab net south of Göteborg in south-west Sweden. I think this is a small specimen of the Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus. This large fish is now rare in these northern seas.
A 440 mm Bonito, Sarda sarda, and a similarly sized Twaite Shad, Alosa fallax, were caught in a gill net set by fisherman Mark Green near to La Tour de Rozel, on the north-east coast of Jersey. It was the second Bonito I have seen from Channel Islands seas.
A Big-eyed Tuna, Thunnus obesus, was reported caught on road and line off south-west England. This is the first record on these report pages and the only previous record seems to be from 1985. Further details were not available at the time of writing.
5 December 2003
A medium-sized Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, was landed at Plymouth Fish Market in the morning. The fish was 244 cm long (fork length) and weighed 42 stone (595 kg). It was caught on the evening of 4th December at around 49°55´N 004° 40'W, that is about 24 nautical miles east of Lizard Point, SW Cornwall.
It was caught by the Scottish mid-water trawler Ocean Star (FR 894) in a mid-water pair trawl.
There have been a few catches
of large tuna over the last few years to the south west of Ireland, and
a number of reports of probable tunas, mainly of about one metre in length,
from around Devon and Cornwall. There were also two Bonitos, Sarda
sarda, (small tunas) caught at Polperro on the Cornish south
coast at the beginning of October 2003.
29 October 1998
A massive Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, was captured on a Mackerel long-line off Plymouth. (Report by Doug Herdson). The Bluefin Tunny, is usually the only large species of tunny found in British seas, although it is very scarce nowadays.
Yellow-fin Tuna, Thunnus albacares, is such a rare vagrant that up to 1978, there was only one record from off south-west Wales, washed up on the beach in 1972. It usually inhabits seas of 24oC, and is a fish of tropical seas. All European records are of vagrant fish. Yellow-fin Tuna are found in the Caribbean Sea, but not in the Bay of Biscay, where the Long-finned Tunny, or Albacore, Thunnus alalunga, is fished for.
Bluefin Tunny were found
Archaeological Site, West Sussex, dated half a million years ago.
A Spanish Mackerel (or Chub Mackerel), Scomber colias, of 468 grams (16.5 oz) was caught from the shore on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, by Neil Montgomery. Spanish Mackerel are rare this far north, and there is no entry in the Scottish records for this fish. (Scottish Angler sources).
An Atlantic Bonito, Sarda sarda, was caught by angler of the Marloes peninsula, S W Wales in July 1996. It was only the eighth confirmed record from Wales this century. Report by Kate Lock. More.
17 October 2001
A Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus with a reported weight of 435 kg (960 lb) is caught on road and line by Adrian Molloy of Kilcar, off Donegal, Ireland. The angler claims this as the largest fish caught around the British Isles, exceeding the giant fish of 386 kg (851 lb) caught from a Whitby boat in 1933 when Tuna were a regular catch in the North Sea.
27 September 2000
A monster Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, of 240 kg (529 lb 2 oz) was caught on road and line off Ireland by Alan Glanville an Englishman living and working as a commercial fisherman in Ireland, along with another the day before of 160 kg (352 lb 12 oz) while fishing aboard Brian McGilloway's boat 'Suzanne' only 2 miles out of Killybegs in Donegal Bay, north west Ireland. Alan's specimen is one of the biggest ever angled off Ireland and anywhere for the past few decade.
The British angling record is a fish of 386 kg (851 lb) from off Whitby, Yorkshire, in 1933.
The record specimen Bluefin caught by rod and line was an enormous 679 kg (1,496 lb) specimen caught off Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1979.
List of Scombridae recorded in the NE Atlantic:
Atlantic Mackerel, Scomber
Spanish Mackerel, Scomber japonicus (see note) now known as the Atlantic Chub (or Spanish) Mackerel, Scomber colias.
Blue-fin Tunny, Thunnus thynnus
Albacore, Thunnus alalunga (also called the Long-fin Tuna)
Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares
Frigate Mackerel, Auxis rochei
Little Tunny, Euthynnus alletteratus
Skipjack Tuna, Katsuwonus pelamis (=Euthynnus)
Plain Bonito, Orcynopsis unicolor
Atlantic Bonito, Sarda sarda
Tuna] (Thunnus thynnus)
B 851-00-00 off Whitby Mitchell-Henry 1933
S 40-00-00 Vacant Qualifying Weight
Tunny, Big Eyed (Thunnus obesus)
B 30-00-00 Vacant Qualifing weight
S 66-12-00 Newlyn Harbour, Cornwall A L Pascoe 1985
Tunny, Long Finned (Thunnus alalunga)
B 4-12-00 Salcombe Estuary, Devon B Cater 1990
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is on the verge of collapse
Badly overfished in the Mediterranean Sea, where it spawns, the species is hunted for its juicy flesh highly prized by the world's sushi connoisseurs.
Fisheries managers at the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) have a chance at their meeting in Paris, France on 17-27 November 2010 to establish a comprehensive and science-based management plan that will give a good chance for the survival of this endangered species - and the centuries-old fishing tradition that depends on it.
WWF Web page
of Bluefin Tuna in Croatia (Aquaculture)
More information can be found
on the following Database:
to British Marine Fish (External)