Fisher on handline vessel

Philippines handline yellowfin tuna

Pacific Ocean
Yellowfin Tuna

Location & History

Tuna fishing in the Philippines began in the early 1900s, and was very small-scale in the early years, feeding only the local communities that went out to fish. With development, practices like longline fishing became the main method across the country and in the 1950’s and the majority of the tuna was exported to North America. Handline fishing practices began in the 1960’s and were encouraged by the American industry. The Philippines handline yellowfin tuna fishery contributes only a small amount of the total yellowfin tuna catch across the whole of the Philippines. However, it is probably one of the most socially responsible, employing around 10,000 people from local communities as fishers and in the processing chains. Yellowfin and skipjack tuna are the two species with the highest catch rate in the Philippines, with bigeye and bluefin representing only a small percentage.


How is the Tuna Caught?

The yellowfin tuna from this fishery is caught using traditional handline methods, where only a single line, with a hook at the end is used per fisher. Up to ten fishers are employed per fishing vessel, and trips last only about one-day. The fishery uses small fish as bait in the water to attract the yellowfin tuna to the boat, once a school has been located. The fishers lower their lines into the water and wait until a fish gets caught on the hook. The fishers then haul the tuna onboard the vessel where they are stored on a small supply of  ice and returned to shore for processing. Due to the small boat size, ice storage is minimal, and so fishing trips can only be one day at a time to prevent the fish being ruined.

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. The yellowfin tuna is then transported to factories for processing, and is generally eaten raw in sushi products. The latest annual catch reports for the Philippines handline fishery estimated that around 25 million KG of yellowfin tuna is caught each year!


Unique Features

There are two names used for filipino handline fishers: Palaran and Pamariles. The Palaran fish for tuna along the coastal waters of the Philippines, whereas the Pamariles hunt further out, past the Philippines’ allocated waters, and out to the high seas.

Typical Vessel

Item Value
Crew Size 5
Size Range(m) 7-13
Details of Type of Engine

Outrigger banca pump boats with diesel engines

Onboard Cold Storage? Yes

Fleet Capacity

Annual Catch Volume (metric tonnes)
Number of Vessels

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 Improvement Project (FIP)

A partnership between WWF-Germany, WWF-Philippines and the German Investment and Development Corporation known as the Partnership Program Towards Sustainable Tuna (PPTST) has implemented a FIP for the handline fishers in the Philippines. The aim of the FIP is to improve fishery practices and traceability. The PPTST has designed a special tag specifically for handline fishers to tag their tuna which holds a unique number, and the time and date the fish was caught, allowing for full traceability through the supply chain from the Philippines to Europe.

Find out more

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.

Download Report

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.

Download Report