Worldwide tuna trade valued at USD 42 billion annually

Published on
May 4, 2016

The global tuna catch contributes more than USD 42.2 billion (EUR 36.7 billion) to the worldwide economy, according to a report by The Pew Charitable Trusts released to coincide with World Tuna Day on 2 May.

The report, "Netting Billions: A Global Valuation of Tuna," uses data from 2012 and 2014 to estimate the end value of all skipjack, albacore, bigeye, yellowfin, Atlantic bluefin, Pacific bluefin, and southern bluefin tuna caught and sold worldwide. The survey was completed by Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management, an independent fisheries and aquaculture consultancy based in the United Kingdom. The firm’s analysis also provides data by ocean region, species and gear used to catch tuna.

“All told, the value of tuna is greater than the gross domestic product of at least 108 countries,” said Amanda Nickson, Pew’s director of global tuna conservation. “Given the economic gains for coastal economies connected to the commercial industry, tuna is an asset that every government should make every effort to protect.”

The global commercial fishing fleet landed about 4.6 million metric tons of tuna worldwide in 2012 and 4.99 million metric tons in 2014. The estimated dock value, or amount paid to fishermen, was USD 12.2 billion (EUR 10.6 billion) in 2012 and USD 9.8 billion (EUR 8.5) in 2014. The survey estimated the end value of this tuna – the total amount paid by the final consumer – was at least USD 33.3 billion (EUR 30 billion) in 2012 and USD 32.9 billion (EUR 28.6 billion) in 2014. By adding in the price of the water and can sold with most tuna, the survey concluded the end value of tuna sales in 2012 was USD 41.6 billion (EUR 36.2 billion) and USD 42.2 billion (EUR 36.7 billion) in 2014. In 2014, the total tuna catch from the Pacific alone was estimated at USD 22.7 billion (EUR 19.8 billion) in 2014.

Skipjack tuna generated the most revenue globally, primarily due to its much higher catch totals. The three Bluefin species were the most valuable per ton – according to the report, a single bluefin tuna typically fetches more than a ton of skipjack.

According to The Pew Charitable Trusts, the report makes an economic case for improving the management of the world’s tuna fisheries.

These stocks deliver less overall value to global tuna fisheries than they could if they were managed differently,” Pew said in its summary of the report. “Estimating the economic contribution of these fisheries informs and highlights the urgency of ensuring that the systems that govern the global ocean are robust and effective. Action is needed to guarantee a healthy and stable future for these species, as well as for the communities and businesses that depend on them.”

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