how long is tuna season

How Long Is Tuna Season? (Facts, Dates & Rules)

Tuna is a type of saltwater fish famous for its great taste and large size. If you are an avid sushi eater, you have had some tuna. 

Tuna is primarily considered a commercial food fish, meaning that it is mainly used and sold as an edible product. 

For anglers hoping to catch some tuna, knowing when is the best time to fish is essential. It is also crucial to know the regulations surrounding tuna fishing, especially regarding bluefin tuna, which is considered an endangered species

In this guide, we’ll break down how tuna season is structured and the regulations regarding the most popularly fished species. 

Tuna Season

The fishing season for tuna varies slightly depending on the type of tuna and location. The overall tuna fishing season runs from June to November. Anglers can find tuna during this time in the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean. 

The summer months are considered the best for tuna fishing, as the fish are most plentiful during this time. 

Specific countries hold regulations about when and how much tuna you can fish, so always double-check with your fishing authority to ensure you are within the guidelines. 

FishSeasonPrime Months
YellowfinMay to NovemberJune, July, August
BluefinJune to NovemberJune, July
AlbacoreJune to SeptemberAugust, September

When Is Yellowfin Tuna Season?

yellowfin tuna fishing season

Yellowfin tuna is also well-known as “ahi tuna” and congregates in tropical and temperate waters.

The yellowfin tuna fishing season runs from May to November. The best months for yellowfin tuna fishing are June, July, and August. 

When Is Bluefin Tuna Season?

bluefin tuna season

Bluefin tuna is the largest variety of tuna, which is why it has been so popular and overfished. These tuna swim in waters that range from sub-tropical to cold water. 

The bluefin tuna fishing season runs from June to November. The best months for bluefin tuna fishing are June and July. 

For bluefin tuna, a limit is set on the amount that fishers can catch, so the season may end early if that limit has already been met. That’s why most anglers choose to fish for bluefin in June and July. 

When Is Albacore Tuna Season?

Albacore Tuna Season

The albacore tuna is also known as longfin tuna and is a smaller variety than bluefin or yellowfin. Albacore tuna stays primarily in warm and tropical waters. 

The albacore tuna season runs from June to September. The best months for albacore tuna fishing are August and September. 

Tuna Fishing Regulations

Regulations are necessary to ensure that overfishing is avoided and species’ populations are appropriately preserved. 

These regulations vary from country to country and state to state, so it’s always good to check with your local fishing authority to avoid breaking the guidelines and facing a fine. 

Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin is not considered an overfished or endangered species. Yellowfin tuna caught must be 27” or more, and there is a maximum of 3 per person per day or trip.  

Bluefin Tuna

Bluefin tuna is considered an endangered species due to overfishing and poaching. 

Due to the bluefin tuna’s status as an endangered species, heavier regulations and more specific guidelines apply to this fish. 

For those with an HMS angling permit:

  • No bluefin tuna under 27” are allowed to be caught
  • For bluefin tuna ranging from 27” to less than 47”, a maximum of 2 per vessel per day (or trip) is applied
  • For bluefin tuna ranging from 47” to under 73”, a maximum of 1 per vessel per day (or trip) is applied
  • For Trophy North bluefin tuna measuring 73” or more, a maximum of 1 per vessel per year applies
  • Trophy South and Trophy Gulf bluefin tuna measuring 73” or more are in closed fishery status, and fishing is prohibited

For those with an HMS Charter Headboat Permit while fishing recreationally:

  • No bluefin tuna under 27” are allowed to be caught
  • For bluefin tuna ranging from 27” to less than 47”, a maximum of 3 per vessel per day (or trip) is applied
  • For bluefin tuna ranging from 47” to under 73”, a maximum of 1 per vessel per day (or trip) is applied
  • For Trophy North bluefin tuna measuring 73” or more, a maximum of 1 per vessel per year applies
  • Trophy South and Trophy Gulf tuna measuring 73” or more are in closed fishery status, and fishing is prohibited

Albacore Tuna

None of the varieties of albacore tuna is considered an overfished or an endangered species. There is no bag limit for albacore tuna fishing. There is no minimum size to catch albacore tuna.  

Conclusion

In general, tuna fishing season runs from June to November, though that varies depending on the specific variety you are looking for. An important note is to check your local fishing regulations, especially if you hope to catch some bluefin tuna.

Related article: Does tuna have scales and fins?

Updated: June 6, 2022