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Purse seine fishing is a consistent and efficient method, enabling fishers to catch and freeze onboard large quantities of tuna.

Purse-seine vessels fish either by spotting free-swimming schools of tuna or by utilizing floating objects that attract fish, either with natural or manmade objects such as fish aggregating devices (FADs).

Purse Seine Fishing

Key Statistics

  • About 66% Percentage of tuna caught globally each year by purse-seine vessels
  • 1,837 – Estimated number of purse-seine vessels authorized to fish for tuna
  • 652 – Number of purse-seine vessels that are “large scale” (335 m3 fish hold volume or greater) and fishing for tropical tuna


When fishing on free-swimming schools, purse-seine vessels have an average bycatch rate of less than 1%. When utilizing FADs, purse-seine vessels have bycatch rates from around 1% in the Eastern Pacific to nearly 9.5% in the Atlantic.

Our report, ISSF 2024-03: Tuna Fisheries’ Impacts on Non-Tuna Species and Other Environmental Aspects: 2024 Summary, examines the effects of different tuna-fishing methods on non-tuna species like sharks.

ISSF 2024-04: Inputs for Comprehensive Bycatch Management Strategy Evaluation in Tuna Fisheries defines bycatch management strategy considerations for several types of tuna fisheries, including purse seine.

Fuel Efficiency

According to an ISSF-commissioned study, purse seine vessels consume 368 liters of fuel in order to land one ton of tuna.


Jelly-FAD Construction Guide

We created an illustrated guide that gives tuna fishers step-by-step instructions for building jelly-FADs — a new model for non-entangling, biodegradable FADs.

Purse-Seine Skippers & Observer Guides

On our ISSF Guidebooks site, we offer online and downloadable PDF guides for purse-seine fishers in several languages. The skippers guidebook covers FADs, bycatch mitigation and handling, fisheries management, and other topics.

Observers who work on purse seiners also have access to online and PDF guides that highlight purse-seine fishing techniques, species identification, bycatch, scientific sampling, and fisheries management.

Purse-Seine Tuna Catches

Use our “Interactive Stock Status and Catch Tool” to visualize the current purse-seine tuna catch —and purse-seine catch trends over time.

Download the data in different file formats, and generate custom graphics to share via email, Twitter, or Facebook.