Bluefin Tuna

Thunnus thynnus

Bluefin tuna / bluefin tuna

LAT Thunnus thynnus
FRA Thon rouge
ITA Tonno rosso
ESP Atun rojo
GER Atlantischer Blauflossenthun

The Best Tuna

The Atlantic bluefin tuna is revered for its deep-red, extremely flavorful flesh. Especially the pieces marbled with fat in the belly area are a particularly sought-after delicacy, also known as “Toro,” which simply melts on the tongue. The taste is very complex and full-bodied, accurately described by the term “Umami.”

Due to its exceptional quality, the bluefin tuna is particularly suitable for raw consumption as sashimi or sushi. It is also commonly enjoyed grilled or seared. Canned as a preserve, the fish exceeds any culinary imagination, breaking away from the typical expectations set by conventional supermarket canned goods (see also “Testa Canned Goods”).


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Interesting to Know

The Atlantic bluefin tuna, with a maximum size of nearly 5 meters in length and weighing almost 700 kg, is one of the largest and most impressive bony fish. In addition to the Atlantic bluefin tuna, there are two other subspecies—one in the Pacific (T. orientalis) and one in the Southern Hemisphere (T. maccoyii). In the Atlantic, the bluefin tuna lives north of the equator, in the Gulf of Mexico, and in the Mediterranean. This pelagic schooling fish can be found at depths up to 100 meters, undertaking extensive migrations covering thousands of kilometers. Its thermoregulation ability allows it to maintain a body temperature a few degrees above the water temperature, enabling speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour. This makes it a superior hunter in pursuit of prey such as herrings, sardines, mackerels, or squid.

Reaching a size of around 1.3 meters and a weight of 30 to 40 kilograms, the bluefin tuna reaches sexual maturity at approximately 4 to 5 years of age. The spawning grounds for the eastern Atlantic population are in the western Mediterranean, while the western Atlantic population spawns in the Gulf of Mexico.

Fisheries and Sustainability

Bluefin tuna are primarily caught using longlines or purse seine nets, both of which allow for selective fishing.

The Atlantic bluefin tuna is considered both an example of poor fisheries management and overfishing, as the species was pushed to the brink of extinction around 2010, leading the IUCN to list it on the Red List of Threatened Species. However, it is also seen as an example of effective protection through international fisheries management. Stringent conservation efforts have resulted in a gradual recovery of stocks, allowing for continuous increases in fishing quotas and enabling sustainable harvesting. Since 2021, the Atlantic bluefin tuna is even listed as “least concern” by the IUCN. The fishing of bluefin tuna is so tightly controlled that trading fish from illegal fishing is nearly impossible.

This example illustrates the resilience of fish populations and how effective protection measures can lead to recovery and long-term, sustainable utilization of stocks. There are now many farms, especially in the Mediterranean, that fatten captured tuna. This practice also leads to more intramuscular fat, which is particularly popular for sushi and sashimi. So far, commercially successful breeding of bluefin tuna has not been achieved.