Pole and line vessel

Senegal pole-and-line skipjack tuna

Atlantic Ocean
Skipjack Tuna

Location & History

The West African Country of Senegal is situated in Northwest Africa, bordered by Mauritania, Mali, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. Senegal has a large coastline that faces the Atlantic Ocean, and the periods of upwelling contribute to the rich fishing grounds. Upwelling occurs when cold, nutrient-rich water from the deep is brought upwards to the surface. The high nutrient content is great for algae, which then encourages small fish to grow in number - meaning there is a lot of prey for the tuna! The Senegal pole-and-line tuna fishery provides food for both local communities, and for global export. 


How is the Tuna Caught?

All the skipjack tuna from this fishery is caught using traditional pole-and-line methods, using one hook on a line attached to a pole, catching one fish at a time. The fishery has 19 pole-and-line fishing boats, seven of which are Senegalese, the others are European-owned. Once a school of tuna has been located, the boat sprays water onto the surface of the ocean to mimic the movements of small fish, which attracts tuna over to the boat. The line hooks are not baited, but fishers throw live fish, typically sardines, into the water to start a tuna feeding frenzy. The crew will then lower their lines into the water and when a tuna gets caught on the hook, the fisher will haul the fish out of the water and onto the deck of the boat. The tuna is quickly removed from the hook, and the same hook and line are returned to the water to start again. The fish are frozen in brine to keep the catch fresh. Fishing trips will typically last between 4 days and 3 weeks. This fishery is very selective, meaning that endangered species such as dolphins, turtles and sharks are highly unlikely to be caught, due to the one-by-one method, and because fishing takes place at the surface, there is virtually no negative impact on different marine habitats. The tuna are landed on the shore and are processed in one of the three main canneries. About 2 million KG of skipjack tuna are caught by Senegalese pole-and-line tuna vessels in this fishery every year - that's almost 12 million cans of tuna!


Unique Features

Across the fishing industry in Senegal, although fishing is primarily a male-dominated field, up to 50% of the total number of employees are women. The processing factories and canneries across the country are primarily made up of women workers!

Typical Vessel

Item Value
Size Range(m) 30-40
Onboard Cold Storage? Yes

Fleet Capacity

Annual Catch Volume (metric tonnes)
Number of Vessels

Target Species

Skipjack Tuna

Skipjack are generally smaller in size compared to other tuna species and also have shorter lifecycles, meaning they can start reproducing very early, after only one year. This has benefits for sustainability, and makes it one of the most abundant tuna species.
Atlantic Ocean
Indian Ocean
Pacific Ocean
Katsuwonus pelamis
Find out more about Skipjack Tuna

Fishing Gear


This fishing method provides the most selective targeting of tuna possible, with minimal bycatch of non-target fish and marine wildlife like dolphins, turtles and sharks. Pole-and-line fishing targets schools of tuna near the ocean surface, and therefore only needs to use short lengths of line on each pole, typically  5-10m.
Find out more about Pole-and-line

Fishery Association

What is an industry association?

Industry associations are responsible for enforcing industry specific standards and regulations to protect employees and companies within that industry. They have a range of responsibilities such as providing industry specific information to businesses and useful resources, engaging in education programs, and supporting businesses so that they can reach and maintain industry standards.

Another important role of an industry association is lobbying governing bodies to take action on issues that are affecting the industry in question.

What is a fishery association?

Fishery associations are generally not-for-profit organisations that represent fisheries in one area of the world. Fishery associations are important for small-scale and artisanal fisheries, to defend their rights in a competitive industry and lobby governments for their support of these fisheries. 

These associations ensure fishers are protected as employees in this industry, and that fish stocks are being managed appropriately to ensure the fishers trade will continue and be prosperous. Some associations represent employees throughout the supply chain, from fishers, to processors, to distributors, protecting the workforce from the source to your plate.




Asociacion Atuneros Cañeros (Dakar Tuna)

Asociacion Atuneros Cañeros (Dakar Tuna) was formed in November 2009 and is currently made up of eight tuna boats, focused in Senegal and fishing by pole-and-line. Its tuna is caught exclusively by this traditional one-by-one method – responsible and sustainable fishing, seeking to involve the vital fishing communities. 
Members of Dakar Tuna provide pole-and-line tuna according to EU standards and the conservation and sustainability policies of the countries in which it operates.

Society for the Exploitation of Tuna Resources Societé d’Exploitation des Ressources Thonières (SERT)

The Society for the Exploitation of Tuna Resources [Societé d’Exploitation des Ressources Thonières] (SERT) is the first Senegalese tuna fishing fleet to practise pole and line fishing.

This selective method of fishing respects the environment and has helped raise the profile of the Senegalese tuna fishing sector thanks to the quality of such products that are now exported globally. Senegal is a strong fishing nation and pole-and-line tuna fishing supports the social and economic life of a number of Senegalese fishers.

SERT has always collaborated with numerous Senegalese and international research institutes in order to ensure tuna stocks are utilised sustainably.

Regional Fisheries Management Organisation

International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)

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 International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is an RFMO that is responsible for the management of tuna and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean. In 2016 ICCAT celebrated it’s 50th anniversary, and due to the wide range of countries it covers, it is known by 2 other names and acronyms: ‘Commission internationale pour la conservation des thonidés de l'Atlantique’ (CICTA), ‘Comisión Internacional para la Conservación del Atún Atlántico’ (CICAA).

Stock Status Reports

Skipjack 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, skipjack tuna represent the healthiest tuna stocks globally, and reaching maturity at just 1 year of age they have a high reproductive rate. However, they often aggregate with juvenile yellowfin tuna which are important to avoid as juveniles will not yet have had a chance to breed.

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