Other names: Aha Palaha, Albies, Angaraap, Apakoa, Binnaga, German Bonito, Germon, Hangaraap, Longfin, Longfin tuna, Longfin Tunny, Pacific Albacore, Pigfish, Tombo Ahi, Thon Blanc.
Albacore tuna spawn in the subtropical waters of the Pacific, from Hawaii in the northeast to New Caledonia in the southwest. In its first year, an albacore tuna hatchling will feed on plankton and then small fish to grow to 45 - 50 centimetres. After the first year, its growth is more steady, 10cm or so every year until it is an adult of 90cm weighing around 15 kilos. However, albacore have been caught weighing as much as 40 kilos. An albacore tuna has a maximum life span of 10 - 12 years.
Albacore tuna is divided into the stocks in the northern Pacific and the stocks in the southern Pacific, most preferring waters of 15ºC-19ºC (59ºF-66.2ºF). Pacific Island countries that albacore tuna call home are are those with waters mostly south of 15º South (New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Niue, Samoa, Cook, French Polynesia). Albacore tuna can swim at speeds up to 80km an hour, migrating south in the summer and north in the winter. They feed on fish, crustaceans and squid. Sharks, larger tuna and billfish prey on albacore tuna.
Most albacore tuna are caught by longline fishing vessels - baited fishing lines which are designed to sink deep in the water or float close to the surface. Around 60,000 - 70,000 tonnes of albacore tuna are caught in the South Pacific Islands region each year. Stocks of albacore tuna are considered healthy. Pacific Island countries that predominantly catch albacore are Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, Cook Isalnds, and French Polynesia.
Albacore is exported as fresh, frozen and canned (white tuna) predominantly to the US, Canada, Japan, and Spain. Longline-caught albacore tuna are usually 15 - 20 kilos and are sold frozen whole to canneries, fresh to export markets, or as frozen quarter loins. While most albacore tuna ends up in a can, and is marketed as "white meat tuna", fresh fish and albacore sashimi are becoming more popular. Although the pink fatty flesh of larger albacore tuna makes it softer and more difficult to slice for sashimi than other types of tuna, the whitish-pink flesh of small albacore tuna can be used for sashimi.