Longline

The Philippine longline fishery is relatively small compared to the other capture methods. Just like purse seiners, these vessels mainly operate as a long distance fishing fleet in the high seas. In 2015 total catches of tuna species by the longline fleet were 14,293 MT, which made up for only 7% of total tuna catch. The majority of these catch comprised of skipjack tuna (11,797 MT, 10% of total skipjack tuna landings) and was followed by yellowfin and bigeye tuna who made up the respective 2,266 MT (2% of the total yellowfin tuna landings) and 220 MT (6% of the total bigeye tuna landings). Issues with bycatch of non-targeted and endangered species are significant in this type of fishery.

Key features
Number of boats

44

Type of fishing

Industrial

Fishing areas

Commercial waters (>15 km offshore), high seas and FAO areas 57 and 71 (Eastern Indian Ocean and Western Central Pacific Ocean)

Target species

Yellowfin tuna, albacore and bigeye tuna

Landing areas

Mindanao (General Santos City and Davao) and Navotas (Manila)

Potential risks
  • Bycatch of endangered species
  • Lack of transparancy in supply chain with foreign owned vessels

Fleet and boat characteristics

Longline vessels are 10 – 30 meter long, engine driven steel or wooden vessels which are owned by medium sized and large fishing corporation and canneries. There are approximately 44 active Philippine flagged longline vessels which are in most cases owned by Taiwanese companies. The catch is usually frozen on board and landed in the Philippines where it is auctioned at public fish markets or supplied to canneries and other processing plants.

Fishing method

Tuna is caught by using a long main nylon line spanning from 1 to 50 kilometers, which contains thousands of individual lines with baited hooks.

Target species

The target species are predominantly yellowfin tuna, albarcore and bigeye tuna. Skipjack tuna, marlins, sailfish, dolphinfish and sharks are regularly caught as bycatch

Fishing areas

Commercial waters (>15 km offshore), high seas and the Eastern Indian Ocean and Western Central Pacific Ocean (FAO 57 and 71).

Landing areas

Most of the tuna catch is landed in the provinces Mindanao and Navotas, with their respective fishing ports General Santos City and Davao, and Manila.

Seasonality

Tuna species are caught year-round in the Philippines but their migratory habit has a big influence on local abundance. It has been suggested that the 4 year El Nino weather cycle plays a large role in local tuna abundance as tuna’s tend to migrate to areas with prey fish and plankton. However, these relationships are poorly understood which makes prediction of local abundance is difficult.

Stock status

In the Western and Central Pacific Ocean the stock spawning biomass of both skipjack as yellowfin tuna is at or above BMSY, while bigeye tuna spawning biomass is below BMSY and not stable or increasing.

In the Eastern Indian Ocean (EIO) the yellowfin tuna stock is in worse shape, with spawning biomass below BMSY and not stable or increasing. Skipjack and bigeye tuna are doing well in the EIO, with both spawning biomasses at or above BSMY.

(ISSF Status of Tuna Stocks – 2016)

Potential risks

Longline fishing has a significant problem with bycatch. Sharks, sea turtles, sea birds and tuna from overfished stocks such as bigeye tuna, are caught when fishing for yellowfin tuna. Other regular bycatch can be skipjack, marlins, sailfish and dolphin fish.

Many vessels operating in the Philippines are indirectly owned by Taiwanese companies with often less transparent supply chains and known labour issues on board.

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