FAO Fishing Area 67 — Northeast Pacific
Troll fishermen use hooks and lines, trailed behind their vessels at low speed, to catch Albacore tuna. The barbless, double hooks are attached to lures that imitate the tuna’s food. Tuna are individually hooked and the lines are pulled in with a hydraulic winch. However, fishermen must haul in each tuna by hand for the last 18 to 120 feet (5.5 to 37 metres)—a struggle in which the skill and agility of the fishermen is paramount.
Trolling is a slow and selective method of harvesting tuna. Albacore tuna vessels average from 35 to 60 feet (10 to 18 metres) in length and have a captain and one or two crew. Trollers usually fish offshore and can stay at sea for weeks at a time, searching for areas where Albacore school and feed. The coastal fleet fishes within Canadian and U.S. fishing zones under the US/Canada Tuna Treaty and a high-seas fleet operates thousands of miles away in the North Pacific.
The most distinct feature of a troller is its long poles secured to its mast by a crosstree. When fishing, the poles are spread apart forming a v-shape. The poles prevent the lines and lures from tangling while trolling at about six knots (7 km/h). Fishermen can have as many as 8 to 14 lines in the water at once. About 190 to 240 vessels participate in the coastal fishery each year.
Trolling has a low impact on marine habitats and a negligible rate of bycatch (unwanted fish). A number of controls address conservation in the Canadian albacore tuna troll fishery. These include:
Marine Stewardship Council - Certified
Ocean Wise - Recommended
SeaChoice - Best Choice
Seafood Watch - Best Choice
Vessels are licensed by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and 110 Canadian vessels are permitted to fish in US waters pursuant to the terms of the Canada/US Tuna Treaty. Download the latest integrated fisheries management plan (PDF).
The International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean conducts stock assessments on Albacore tuna.
Troll-caught Albacore tuna are known for their high quality and freshness. The slow-paced and selective nature of trolling means that each tuna is individually hauled aboard by hand, cleaned, washed and either iced or frozen at sea. For this reason, quality—rather than quantity—is the hallmark of troll-caught wild Albacore tuna.
Most trollers freeze their catch at sea. The Albacore tuna are dipped in a saltwater glaze and flash-frozen to a core temperature of -30 degrees Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit). The glaze prevents dehydration and locks in freshness. Freezing happens within only hours of the tuna being caught so that when the fish is thawed it has the quality of being freshly caught. That’s why fishermen refer to their catch as “fresh-frozen” and why frozen-at-sea tuna are highly sought after by sushi chefs.
La flottille côtière canadienne concentre son effort de pêche principalement entre le sud de l’Oregon et l’extrémité nord de l’île de Vancouver, en Colombie-Britannique. La pêche dans le Pacifique Nord se fait de mai à octobre chaque année, quand le germon est abondant au large et dans les eaux côtières. La pêche culmine généralement en juillet, août et septembre.