Introduction to Tuna Fish  


(“Il Tonno”- “A Tunnina”) 


The Varieties  


One of the most sought after fish in the world is the tuna. This magnificent fish can be found in all the oceans; tuna fish swim in cold waters but seek mild water temperature in their yearly voyage to mate and spawn. 
The tuna has a flesh that can be easily processed and canned: the canned meat is well liked and goes well mixed in salads or in the preparation of sandwiches, the fresh tuna cooked in different sauces, fried, barbecued or baked is a favorite and delightful dish.
Because it is consumed widely and in large quantities, makes its catching very profitable.
The tuna fish has become an important constituent in the international food industry and fleets of many nations rake the international water following the tuna in their migrations, using modern means of fishing to catch them in large quantities to the point of endangering their survival.
Recently an international commission has established rules to avoid illegal and over fishing and set quotas to limit their catching.
There are many species of tuna and usually they follow the same migratory pattern year after year, making them an easy prey.
Tuna fish are caught by means of long heavy duty nets, creating a labyrinth in which the tuna are trapped and then transferred in the boats: this old
Andalusia method is called Almadraba, a similar method is used in Sicily
The technique called the seine fishing consists of a large net attached to floats along the top and weights at the bottom so that the passing tuna get encircled and by pulling and closing the net the fish get entrapped and caught.
Another traditional procedure, the line fishing is used to catch tuna surfing for food: that is a long line kept near the surface of the water with floats and attached to it are baited hooks to capture the tuna.
Fishing is also done with harpoons; recreational tuna fishing is mostly done with rods, furnished with reels, lines, and hooks. 



The Varieties of Tuna 


The albacore is mostly fished in the Pacific from the coast of California to South America. Some albacores are found in the Mediterranean Sea and are called Alalunga, “Alalonga” in Sicilian. The flesh of the albacore is almost white; it has a light taste and it is the preferred tuna fish for canning. The albacore can weight up to 60 pounds
The black fin tuna is caught from
Cape Cod to the Brazilian coasts. It is the smallest of the tuna family weighting on the average around 25 pounds. Prefers mild waters and it is a prized catch for sport fishing. The flesh is from a dark pink to a red, it is fatty and tasty.
The yellow fin tuna ranges in size from 2 to 200 pounds. Mostly harvested in
Hawaii, some are also caught in the Mediterranean Sea. It is pursued in sashimi and other row fish food preparations. Some fresh yellow fin tuna, after being drawn and cut into loin, flown into the continental U.S.A. and it is available in exclusive fish stores.  
The bigeye tuna weight over 350 pounds; major feature are similar to the yellow fin tuna.  The female tuna spawn up to 4 million eggs in the
Gulf of Guinea and in other unknown Atlantic locations. It feeds and swims in deep ocean water as much as 1500 feet under; when the bigeye reaches the coasts of Hawaii, it becomes a preferred game for the sportsmen and for commercial fishing. 
The long tail tuna goes in a yearly migration pattern from the red Sea and the eastern African coasts to
Japan and Australia and back.  It reaches an average weight of 50 pounds; the meat is mild tasting, rich and its color goes from a dark pink to a red.
The bluefin tuna are found in different parts of the world, therefore are subdivided in Pacific bluefin tuna, Southern bluefin tuna and Northern bluefin tuna. The bluefin tuna share some features but each variety has their own characteristics.
The Pacific bluefin tuna is a large fish ranging in weight between 300 to 400 pounds. The color of the meat is from a light to a deep red according to their age which has a lifespan between 15 to 20 years. They spawn in the
Sea of Japan and near the Philippine Islands and migrate east as far as the coasts of the American continents, a distance of over 6000 miles.
The Southern bluefin tuna is one of the biggest tuna, some adult fish weighing well over 1000 pounds. Their flesh is a deep red color; it is sought after in
Japan by sashimi and sushi chefs for its high fat contains and its firm texture.
The spawning grounds are conjectured to be in the waters south of
Indonesia and the north-east of New Guinea; they swim from South Asia as far as New Zealand and Australia.
The fishing of the Southern bluefin tuna is done without any control; fleets of Japanese, New Zealanders, Chinese, Korean and multinationals are combing relentlessly a vast area of the ocean in a tireless pursuit to catch the largest amount for the highest profit, uncaring about the endangerment to the species.
The Northern bluefin tuna is called the “giant tuna”: an adult can reach a weight of over 1100 pounds; the average is about 600/900 pounds. Female bluefin tuna reaches sexual maturity between 5 to 8 years old; they release over 25 million eggs. Their habitat is the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean  and they migrate from Alaska to the Californian coasts, also to Mexico and to areas near Japan and the Philippines, where spawning occurs. They are caught between
Point Conception, California and Baja California, Mexico; in the western Pacific bluefin tuna are caught in the coasts of Japan and other locations in the vicinity. Of the Northern bluefin tuna, about 80% are caught in the Northwest Pacific, near Japan and about 20% are fished in the Californian and Mexican coasts.
The tuna swimming in the
Atlantic Ocean spawn in the coasts of the Adriatic Sea, in some areas of the Black Sea and in the West of the Atlantic Ocean, the spawning occurs in the Gulf of Mexico