Which tuna should i buy?

Standard Page - 13 May, 2011
Tuna brands play a key role in the overfishing crisis by selling us unsustainable tuna. It's time every brand takes responsibility.

tuna ranking
Buy Pole and Line
Which brands are best?

Most tuna brands remain hooked on destructive fishing practices, which threaten tuna stocks and unnecessarily kill other marine life.

Thankfully, consumer pressure has forced many brands to change their tuna. You can now buy sustainable ‘pole and line’ caught tuna in nearly every supermarket around Australia.

Put one of these products into your basket and make a better choice for our oceans.

Find out more about Pole and Line

Pole and Line

How were brands ranked?

The tuna brands were ranked based on the following criteria:

Sustainability Policy

It is essential that companies have in place an effective policy that ensures their products are produced sustainably.

Fishing methods used

Most tuna is caught using purse seine nets with fish aggregation devices (FADs), a method responsible for high levels of bycatch including sharks and other marine life, as well as juvenile tuna from threatened species. In contrast, 'pole and line' fishing offers a less wasteful solution, with reduced bycatch. 'Pole and line' fisheries also tend to offer greater economic returns to local populations. Purse seine fishing without FADs is an acceptable secondary option.

Tuna species used

Each tuna species is under different levels of pressure. Bigeye and yellowfin tuna are overfished and at risk. Skipjack tuna is declining, but is the tuna species of least concern.

Labelling

Providing comprehensive information on labels gives customers the opportunity to make an informed choice based on the product's sustainability. Labels should include the species name, catch method and the area the fish was caught in.

Support for marine reserves and equitable tuna policies

Companies should offer public support for the establishment of marine reserves, including the proposed protected areas known as, the Pacific Commons. This will ensure the long-term sustainability of fish stocks and healthy marine ecosystems. It is equally important that reasonable economic benefits are returned to the countries who own the rights to individual fish stocks.

Use of illegal or unregulated products

Illegal fishing accounts for up to 46% of fishing activity in the Pacific. This is exacerbating the overfishing crisis. Companies must be able to guarantee their supply chain does not include operators that engage in illegal, unregulated or unreported (IUU) fishing.

The information has been obtained from a combination of brand responses to a Greenpeace product survey, correspondence with brands and retailers, publicly available information and product evaluation.

Greenpeace is grateful for the assistance provided by retailers and brand suppliers in providing relevant information as well as for the assistance provided by various third party experts.

Glossary

Bycatch

Unwanted marine life caught when fishing, such as sharks, turtles and juvenile tuna. Some fishing methods have a higher rate of bycatch than others.

Fish aggregating devices or FADs

Fish and marine life are attracted to these floating objects. Highly destructive particularly when used with purse seine nets.

High sea pockets

Also known as international waters or Pacific Commons, these areas fall outside the jurisdiction of nations and are targeted by illegal vessels. We want them to become marine reserves.

Illegal, unreported, unregulated vessels

They steal fish, which exacerbates the overfishing crisis. Also known as pirate fishing vessels.

Longliners

Their lines are sometimes hundreds of kilometres long, baited with thousands of hooks. Very destructive.

Marine reserves

Similar to national parks on land, they are areas free from fishing and other activities. Essential to replenish marine ecosystems.

Pole and line

One of the most sustainable methods of catching tuna because each fish is individually caught. Look out for pole and line caught tuna in your supermarket.

Purse seines

Giant nets that encircle schools of fish and then are drawn tight like a drawstring purse. Very destructive when used with FADs (how most tuna is caught), much better when FAD-free.

Skipjack tuna

The healthiest species
of tuna.

Southern bluefin tuna

Critically endangered. Mostly used in sushi.

Albacore tuna

Near-threatened. Better options available.

Yellowfin tuna

Near-threatened and continues to be overfished.

Bigeye tuna

Vulnerable.