Bluefin Tuna

Thunnus thynnus

Managed by: NMFS

Physical description:

The bluefin tuna is a large pelagic species with a torpedo-shaped body that is nearly circular in cross-section. Because it is a fierce fighter, reaches a length of 11 feet and weight of 1,390 pounds, it is highly valued by fishermen. Bluefin tuna are dark blue-black on the back, and white on the lower sides and belly. Colorless transverse lines, alternating with rows of colorless spots on the lower sides, are present on live fish. The second dorsal fin is reddish-brown. The color of the dorsal fin, the number of gill rackers on the first arch (34-43), and the very short pectoral fins may separate the species from other members of the tuna genus, Thunnus.

Biological description:

Bluefin tuna are distributed from Argentina and South Africa north to Labrador and northern Scandinavia in the Atlantic Ocean including the Gulf of mexico and the Caribbean. Bluefin tuna 6 years or older spawn throughout much of the western Atlantic during warmer months. Females larger than 270 pounds spawn from April through June, primarily in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Smaller bluefin tuna spawn along the shore edge of the Gulf Stream in the Mid-Atlantic Bight in June and July. The species may live for more than 20 years. Bluefin tuna are voracious carnivores feeding on herrings, mackerel, hakes and squid.

South Atlantic Federal Regulations

(For areas three-200 miles off the coasts of NC, SC, GA, and East Florida)

Bluefin tuna are managed by the Highly Migratory Division of the National Marine Fisheries Service in Silver Spring, MD. For more information on federal regulations for Highly Migratory Species (sharks, swordfish, billfish & tunas) call the HMS Automated toll free line at: 1-800/894-5528 or contact NMFS at (301) 713-2347.

Informatation regarding tuna permits can be obtained by calling the NMFS Permits and Landings Report System at 1-888/872-TUNA (8862) or at


Infomaton provided by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council