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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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tuna (or tunny), a group of large and medium-sized oceanic fish which are a food resource of primary importance.

The name tuna, like most general fish names, is not applied in a uniform way and does not always correspond to the scientific classification of these fish. With rare exceptions it is used only of fish in the family Scombridae, and within that family is reserved almost exclusively for members of the two genera Thunnus (all of whose members except one are always called tuna in English) and Euthynnus (where names such as little tunny, thonine, and kawakawa prevail). Within the same subfamily as these are two other genera, whose members are likely to be referred to in scientific works as tuna, but which have other common names and are the subjects of separate entries. These are Katsuwonus (one species only, often just called skipjack rather than skipjack tuna), and Auxis (whose members are usually called frigate mackerel). Close relations, with many of the same characteristics as tuna, include bonito. For a catalogue of all these species see Bruce Collette and Cornelia Nauen (1983).