Handliner catching yellowfin tuna

North Buru & Maluku Handline Yellowfin Tuna Fair Trade

Pacific Ocean
Yellowfin Tuna

Location & History

The Maluku handline yellowfin tuna fishery operates small, one or two-manned vessels in Indonesia. In 2011, this fishery implemented the initiatives from the partnership between IPNLF and a local, sustainable tuna fisheries organization, AP2HI to divide national fisheries into several smaller fisheries based on their geographic area. The smaller fisheries could then work on individual improvements to ensure that sustainability targets were met, without adjacent tuna fisheries compromising these efforts.The fishery is located in North Buru and Maluku, in Central Indonesia.


How is the Tuna Caught?

All the catch from this fishery is caught using the traditional handline technique, wherein each fisher uses a single line with a hook attached, to catch one fish at a time. Catch rates are monitored upon returning to shore, to ensure that vessels do not exceed their limits of tuna catch and are remaining sustainable. A typical fishing trip will be anywhere from one-day to one-week, and can catch between 70 KG and 300 KG of yellowfin tuna per fishing trip - that’s between 500 and 2,000 cans of tuna! Using brightly coloured lures in a technique called “jigging”, small, live fish and squid are caught at the beginning of the fishing trips to be used as bait for the tuna. The fishery is very selective, which means it catches only yellowfin tuna (90% of the catch). Non-target species (also known as bycatch) are animals that the fishery doesn’t want to catch, such as dolphins, turtles or sharks. The use of a single hook and line per fisher means that there is very little bycatch, and because fishing takes place at the surface of the ocean, there is virtually no negative impact on different marine habitats. Fishers use an ice slurry to store the tuna, to maintain freshness before returning to land.


Unique Features

The fishery provides jobs for local communities both at sea as fishers, and on land in the processing sector, which enhances economic growth and opportunity across the community. 

Fun fact: This fishery is the first handline fishery from Indonesia that received Fair Trade USA certification in October 2014.

Typical Vessel

Item Value
Crew Size 1
Size Range(m) 2-4
Details of Type of Engine

Outboard 1-5 tonnes, inboard above 5 tonnes 

Hold Capacity < 10
Onboard Cold Storage? Yes

Fleet Capacity

Annual Catch Volume (metric tonnes)
Number of Vessels
Local Employment

Target Species

Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin tuna are located around the world in warm tropical and subtropical waters, close to the surface of the ocean. The meat from the fish is pale pink in colour and mild tasting due to the lower fat stores in their body as a result of their location in warmer seas.
Pacific Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
Indian Ocean
Thunnus albacares
Find out more about Yellowfin Tuna

Fishing Gear


Techniques vary but typically an individual fisher will deploy a single line and hook from a stationary vessel. When a tuna bites, the fisher hauls it in by hand. Once landed on the vessel it is put on ice to maintain freshness. 
Find out more about Handline


Traceability systems are used in food supply chains to track a product from production to consumption. They assist with ensuring that standards and regulations are met throughout the supply chain, which is very important for products that travel across the globe, such as tuna.

Good traceability reduces contamination, disease, and spoilage. In the case of seafood, it also helps to maintain sustainable fish stocks in the oceans so we can keep enjoying tuna for years to come.

Most importantly, traceability provides transparency through the supply chain, allowing all parties including the consumer access to information about the products they are buying.


Fishery Information and Traceability (FIT)

Fishery Information and Traceability (FIT) programme is in place for skipjack tuna fisheries across the AP2HI membership to highlight fishery transparency and improve the efficiency of fishing practices. The FIT is a programme that collects various data regarding catch rate, vessel numbers, and bait usage across the fisheries. This data is then used to advise fisheries on key elements for improvement.

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Regional Fisheries Management Organisation

Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC)

Regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) are international bodies formed to manage fish stocks in an oceanic area. They include several countries with fisheries operating in that area, and some focus on particular species such as tunas. They are established through international agreements and treaties. RFMOs typically collect fishery statistics, assess fish stock conditions, monitor fishery activity and make fishery management decisions.

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) was established by the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPF Convention). The Commission seeks to manage issues that arise in high-seas fisheries, to prevent overexploitation of highly migratory fish stocks.

Stock Status Reports

Yellowfin Tuna Stock Status


The stock status of a fish species signifies whether a species is 'overexploited', 'fully exploited' or 'underexploited'. Different organisations use different parameters to assign these labels. For example, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) deems any species to have less than 40% of it’s ‘unfished biomass’ to be overexploited.

The aim of assigning stock status to a species is to ensure that catches are kept at a level where future catches will not be affected, in other words, to maintain a healthy, viable population of fish.

In addition to biomass, spawning potential, catch trend and size-age composition may be used to determine stock status. These are important factors to consider as some species are more resilient than others and have different ecological features. For example, yellowfin tuna have a higher reproduction rate and are typically more resilient than other tuna species.

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National Reports



National Reports are formal documents from members of the Tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (tRFMO) in question. Each country that falls within the tRFMO must report on the state of their national fisheries in relation to the requirements of that tRFMO. They are normally presented to the annual Scientific Committee meetings by a credentialed head of delegation - considered national scientists. The tRFMO normally prescribes what the report should entail and how it should be structured, which would also include progress on key resolutions on conservation and management measures, and brief the ongoing scientific research of interest to the tRFMO.

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