Love Tuna? Tips for Choosing What’s Best for You and The Oceans

October 07, 2015

Make choices good for your health and our oceans when you buy seafood.

Making environmental and health conscious decisions when choosing fish is getting easier and easier. Still, there are times when we need to be reminded of the best choices and why making careful seafood decisions truly matters.

The advent of industrial-scale fishing, which began in the late 1800’s, has been accompanied by significant declines in both size and abundance of fish. According to Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, by the 1980s, fishing practices had made it impossible for natural fish stocks to keep up. Currently, 90 percent of the world's fisheries are exploited, overexploited or have collapsed! The global fishing fleet is operating at 2.5 times the sustainable level—there are simply too many boats chasing a dwindling number of fish

Clearly this is a very real problem threatening the health of our oceans today. And you can make a difference!  Being thattuna is America’s favorite fish, here’s your guide to choosing the best type for you and the environment:

The best, most sustainable choice is American albacore tuna. This delicious big fish is caught during the summer months when vessels find their way to the tuna fields; fishing only during daylight hours using pacific troll, and pole and line. Some of the catch is frozen immediately onboard and the rest is landed as fresh. The white tuna meat ends up in cans, as smoked products, or fresh at your supermarket’s fish counter. Slipjack tuna, caught by Pacific troll and pole and line also falls into the best choice category.

Avoid bluefin tuna, which is completely overfished. Heavy consumption by the Japanese created such a demand that commercial fisheries created more efficient methods of fishing, including using airplanes to find bluefin tuna from overhead! The stock population of bluefin has declined by 75 percent during the last decade. Whether you're at your favorite sushi restaurant or local supermarket, choose another type of tuna in order to protect and allow bluefin to have the opportunity to grow again. Bluefin is know as: hon maguro, kuromaguro or toro when it is prepared for sushi.

Big-eye and yellow-fin tuna have become very popular choices especially because of the rise in popularity of sushi. These types of tuna are found in warmer waters all over the world and are caught in many different ways. In some cases these tunaspecies are caught by pole and line, which is the best, and most traditional, way to fish sustainably. Pole and line fishing protects coral and also limits by-catch of other species. If you cannot resist choosing yellow-fin or big-eye tuna, make sure it’s pole and line. 

For more information on sustainable choices in seafood visit Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch  or download the Seafood Watch Guide to know what's sustainable on the go.