Purse seine

The Philippines have a significant number of commercial purse seine vessels. Due to the fact that most of the tuna stocks in the waters around the Philippines have been severely depleted over the past two decades, these vessels mainly operate far off coast. In 2015, these purse seine vessels landed a total catch of 56,960 MT of tuna, which was 26% of the total tuna landings. 42,594 MT comprised of skipjack tuna (37% of total skipjack tuna landings), 13,332 MT of yellowfin tuna (14% of total yellowfin tuna landings) and 1,034 MT of bigeye tuna (29% of total bigeye tuna landings). These numbers only refer to the catches from the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, including Phillipine waters, which comprise around 90% of the total catch.

Key features
Number of boats


Type of fishing


Fishing areas

Commercial waters (>15 km offshore), FAO areas 57 and 71 (respective Eastern Indian Ocean and Western Central Pacific Ocean) and Papua New Guinea waters

Target species

Skipjack tuna and smaller, juvenile yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna

Landing areas

Mindanao (General Santos City) and Navotas (Manila)

Potential risks
  • Significant bycatch of other species, including juvenile undersized tuna and tuna of overfished stocks (for example bigeye tuna)
  • Labour issues on some vessels

Fleet and boat characteristics

The Philippines have 152 registered, active purse seine vessels that operate in the Pacific Ocean. These vessels are owned by a small number of large fishing companies and canneries. Vessel are made of steel and motorized. Sizes range from 10 to 60 meter. The majority of these vessels (86) are below 250 GT, while the remaining vessels are between 250 and 1,500 GT. To support these vessels, another 263 carrier ships and 387 support vessels are registered. In the Indian Ocean, 46 purse seine fishing vessels are registered and currently active. Of these vessels, 14 are less than 250 GT while the remainder ranges in size from 250 to 1,500 GT.

Purse seine vessels are owned by large fishing corporation and canneries. The vessels hold a large crew who are assigned to different positions. Catch is frozen on board and used as raw material which is directly to supplied to canneries in the Philippines or other regionally canneries.

Fishing method

Vessels use a large net that is encircled around a school of tuna and associated species. Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD’s) are often used.

Target species

Target species for tuna purse seiners are skipjack and small/juvenile yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna. Juvenile yellowfin and bigeye tuna are caught because they tend to school together with the smaller skipjack.

Fishing areas

Purse seine vessels operate in commercial waters (>15 km offshore), in the Eastern Indian and Western Central Pacific Ocean (FAO 57 and 71) and in the waters of Papua New Guinea. Half of the catch that is caught in Papua New Guinea waters needs to be landed and processed there.

Landing areas

Purse seine catches are landed in Mindanao (General Santos City) and Navotas (Manila).


Tuna species are caught year-round 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 small prey fish and plankton. However, these relationships are poorly understood, which makes predicting local abundance 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)