Abstract Relationships between albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga) longline catch per unit effort (CPUE) and environmental variables from model outputs in New Caledonia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) were examined through generalized
linear models at a 1° spatial resolution and 10‐day temporal resolution. At a regional (EEZ) scale, the study demonstrated that a large part of albacore CPUE variability can be explained by seasonal, interannual and spatial variation of the habitat. Results of the generalized linear
models indicated that catch rates are higher than average in the northwestern part of the EEZ at the beginning of the year (January) and during the second half of the year (July–December). In the northwestern region of the EEZ, high CPUEs are associated with waters <20.5° in the
intermediate layer and with moderate values of primary production. Longline CPUE also appeared to be dependent on prey densities, as predicted from a micronekton model. Albacore CPUE was highest at moderate densities of prey in the epipelagic layer during the night and for relatively low prey
densities in the mesopelagic layer during the day. We also demonstrated that the highest CPUEs were recorded from 1986 to 1998, which corresponds to a period with frequent El Niño events.