Genomic analysis reveals multiple mismatches between biological and management units in yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares)

Rachel B Mullins, Niall McKeown, W. H. H. Sauer, Paul Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (SciVal)
132 Downloads (Pure)


The South African (SAF) yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) fishery represents a potential example of misalignment between management units and biological processes. The SAF fishery spans an operational stock with a boundary at 20°E, either side of which fish are considered part of Atlantic or Indian Ocean regional stocks. However, the actual recruitment of fish from Atlantic and Indian Ocean spawning populations into SAF waters is unknown. To address this knowledge gap, genomic analysis (11 101 SNPs) was performed on samples from Atlantic and Indian Ocean spawning sites, including SAF sites spanning the current stock boundary. Outlier loci conferred high discriminatory power to assignment tests and revealed that all SAF fish were assigned to the Indian Ocean population and that no Atlantic Ocean fish appeared in the SAF samples. Additionally, several Indian Ocean migrants were detected at the Atlantic spawning site demonstrating asymmetric dispersal and the occurrence of a mixed-stock fishery in Atlantic waters. This study highlights both the spatial inaccuracy of current stock designations and a misunderstanding of interactions between the underlying biological units, which must be addressed in light of local and global declines of the species. Specifically, the entire SAF fishery must be managed as part of the Indian Ocean stock
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfsy102
Pages (from-to)2145–2152
Number of pages8
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number6
Early online date31 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2018


  • adaptation
  • assignment
  • conservation
  • dispersal
  • genetic differentiation
  • stock
  • sustainability


Dive into the research topics of 'Genomic analysis reveals multiple mismatches between biological and management units in yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this