Skipjack are the smallest and most abundant of the major commercial tuna species. They have a streamlined body that is mostly without scales. Their backs are dark purple-blue and their lower sides and bellies are silver with four to six dark bands. Skipjack can live as long as 8-10 years. They are found mainly in the tropical areas of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, with the greatest abundance seen near the equator. Skipjack usually swim near the surface at night and can dive up to 850 feet during the day. Large schools of adult skipjack tuna often mix with juvenile yellowfin and bigeye tuna.
Why they matter
Skipjack are commercially important as the main species of canned tuna. Although tuna do provide food and livelihoods for people, they are more than just seafood. Tuna are a top predator in the marine food chain, maintaining a balance in the ocean environment.
Skipjack tuna are abundant throughout their range and populations appear healthy. However, bycatch is a serious issue. Since juvenile yellowfin and bigeye tuna often school with adult skipjack, they are caught by purse seine vessels that target skipjack.
The skipjack tuna, while quite resilient, could easily slip into a vulnerable state due to overfishing if improperly managed.
What WWF is doing
Tuna are integral parts of the entire marine ecosystem and our goal is for populations to be healthy and well-managed. We partner with governments and regional fisheries management organizations to advocate for stricter plans to recover depleted tuna stocks, combat pirate fishing and reduce bycatch.
WWF works with other organizations and the fishing industry to transform tuna fishing into a sustainable business, particularly through certification of tuna fisheries by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). WWF helps ensure that tuna are harvested responsibly and sustainably managed through work with the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). We encourage retailers to source from fisheries that are MSC-certified and work to raise consumer awareness about sustainably caught tuna.