Seriola lalandi

South Coast (Point Dume to Mexico border) Flakey fish Wild caught


The Science

Over 40 species of symbiotic parasites live on the gills and within the guts of yellowtail [2]

The Fishery

No California Yellowtail can be taken commercially if it is less than 28 inches (71 cm) long [11]

The Seafood

Known as Hamachi in sushi, this fish has a buttery texture due to its naturally high oil content [4]

The Science

The Fish Wife,

Taxonomic description

  • Blue body, yellow tail, and silver sides with a bronzy stripe along the lateral line [2]
  • Grows to 2.5 m in length and weighs up to 36.3 kg, with the largest weighing in at 41.3 kg (91.1 lbs) [2]


  • Along the eastern Pacific from southern Washington to Mazatlán, Mexico (for California Yellowtail) [1]

Life history

  • Average lifespan 5-6 years with a max of 12 years [2]
  • Females can spawn at 2-3 years old and release up to 150 eggs during spawning, but about 100 eggs are fertilized at a time. Yellowtail eggs are externally fertilized, with the females releasing eggs into the water column, and the males spraying sperm over the eggs [2]
  • Spawning occurs during the summer, from June to October [10]. Younger females spawn once during spawning season, while older ones can spawn multiple times [2]


  • Lives near rocky reefs, kelp beds, and offshore islands [2]
  • Eggs and larvae are eaten by mollusks, echinoderms, crabs, and fish [2]
  • Common predators on adults are great white sharks, California sea lions, and humans; the fish’s blue and silvery color is an adaptation to help camouflage from predators [2]
  • Yellowtail themselves like to eat round herring, sardines, squids, anchovies, and California flying fish [2]

The Fishery

Jason Houston, Tuna Harbor Dockside Market

Seasonal availability

  • Generally caught June to February, drift gillnet open April 15-February 1, other gear types open year round [5]

Managing authority

  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife, though there is no specific management plan [8]

Gear type

  • Drift gillnet incidental catch, also targeted with hook and line. If targeting yellowtail with drift gillnets, mesh size must be ≥3.5 inches [8]

Status of the fishery

  • Is a largely sought after sportfish, but no decline in population sizes has been detected [9]
  • Commercial catch declined when purse seining (1973), and later, gillnets (1994) were banned in California waters (CDFG 2001) [1]
  • There is currently no stock assessment or fishery management plan in place for California yellowtail [1]
  • Currently no conservation acts [1]

Potential ecosystem impacts

  • Yellowtail are secondary and tertiary consumers in their ecosystems, so their presence helps create the population structure for their prey [2]
  • They have over 50 species of symbiotic parasites on their gills and inside their guts [2, Hutson 2007 thesis] 

The Seafood

Chloe Meyers,

Edible portions

  • Meat (muscle), head and roe are edible, remaining parts may be used in broth or soups [4]

Description of meat

  • Light red to pink in color, and buttery due to high oil content [4]

Culinary uses

  • Commonly used raw in sushi as sashimi or smoked [4]
  • Sold fresh and frozen, and whole, in fillets or steaks [4]

Nutritional information 

  • 66% of the calories are from protein, while the rest 34% are from fat [5,12]

Toxicity report

  • Yellowtail naturally have high amounts of histidine, which is a precursor to histamine; high levels of histamine result in an allergy. Spoiled fish have higher chances of leading to histamine toxicity [7]

Seasonal availability

  • Available year round [1]


[1] James, K. 2014. California yellowtail, White seabass. Web. Accessed: 30 May 2017

[2] Sandoval, J. 2017. Seriola lalandi. Web. Accessed: 30 May 2017

[3] Fishing Booker, 2017. Yellowtail Amberjack Fishing in San Diego California. Web. Accessed: 30 May 2017

[4]Seafood Source. 2014. Yellowtail. Web. Accessed: 29 May 2017

[5] Tuna Harbor Dockside Market, 2017. Web. Accessed: 30 May 2017

[6] Eat This Much, 2017. Yellowtail. 2017. Web.,3385. Accessed: 30 May 2017

[7] American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, 2017. Histamine Toxicity. Web. Accessed: 30 May 2017

[8] NOAA Fisheries, 2017. CA Yellowtail/Barracuda/White Seabass Drift Gillnet Fishery. Web. Accessed: 30 May 2017.

[9] IUCN Red List, 2017. Seriola lalandi. Web. Accessed: 30 May 2017.

[10] CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, 2013. California Marine Sportfish Identification. Web. Accessed: 30 May 2017.

[11] Crooke, S. 2001. Status of the Fisheries Report, Yellowtail. CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, Marine Region, CA, USA. 

[12] Yellowtail. Web. Accessed: 21 September 2017.