The seven commercial species of tuna contributed an average of USD 40 billion in end value to the global economy each year, making it the world’s most valuable fish, according to a report by Pew*.
In addition to canned tuna being a much loved inexpensive staple protein in households around the world, tuna is also sold at premium prices used for steaks, sashimi and sushi.
According to the study, 5.2 million M/T of tuna was landed by commercial fishing vessels in 2018, up from 5 million tons in 2016. Skipjack accounted for more than 57 percent of all global landings – rising from 2.9 million M/T in 2016 to 3 million M/T in 2018.
In 2018, the estimated amount paid to fishermen, the dock value, was USD 11.7 billion. The total amount paid by final consumers, the end value, reached at least USD 40.8 billion when including the price of the full canned product; which means it includes the value of oil which is sometimes added as an ingredient.
Value Of The Seven Main Commercial Tuna Species
The seven most common commercial tuna species -- skipjack, albacore, bigeye, yellowfin, Atlantic bluefin, Pacific bluefin, and Southern bluefin, are some of the most economically viable fish in the world and are found in waters all around the globe. They are all wild caught. Compared to 2016, consumers paid 10 percent more for skipjack products in 2018 at USD 16.1 billion. Yellowfin sales were the second-highest at USD 15.8 billion. More information on the different tuna species can be found in Atuna’s Tuna Species Guide.
The Value Of Tuna By Fishing Gear
Purse seine vessels catch the majority of tuna landed worldwide, and 57 percent of the end value of the total tuna catch comes from this fishing method. Read more about different catching methods here.
Value Of Tuna In The Different Ocean Areas
The most extensive tuna fishing grounds are found in the Pacific Ocean, which is also the largest contributor to the total global tuna sales. The end value of all Pacific caught tuna (the Eastern, Western and Central Pacific combined), including the full canned tuna product price, reached USD 26.2 billion in 2018, which made up 64 percent of the total value.
The Indian and Atlantic oceans followed in second and third place, respectively. In 2018, 1.2 million M/T of the main commercial tuna species’ was caught in the Indian Ocean, worth over USD 8.6 billion at the final point of sale. In the Atlantic Ocean were 590,000 M/T was landed with an end value of over USD 5.4 billion.
The billion dollar tuna industry is vital to the global economy and is highly important to both businesses and local communities around the world. Some of the biggest threats to this crucial sector are overfishing and unsustainable management of tuna resources.
*The data you find here comes from an independent study on the global value of tuna fisheries which was commissioned by Pew and conducted by Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd., a UK based independent fisheries and aquaculture consultancy. The statistics are based on information gathered on tuna fisheries and markets for the years 2016 and 2018.