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2017 Tuna Shopping Guide

Open Tuna Can

How does your can stack up?

If you’re going to buy tuna, make sure to choose a responsibly-caught option.

We’ve ranked 20 well-known canned tuna brands that can be found in grocery stores nationwide based on how sustainable, ethical, and fair their tuna products are for our oceans—and for the workers that help get the products to store shelves.

If you’re going to buy tuna, make sure to choose a responsibly-caught option.

How the Brands Ranked

Click on a can to see the results

Next Can: #1 American Tuna

#1 Wild Planet

Wild Planet Tuna Can

#1 Wild Planet

Verdict

An eco-brand dedicated to greening store shelves and driving industry change.

Ocean Safe Products

All Wild Planet & Sustainable Seas brand canned tuna.

  • Wild Planet has a strong, fully implemented sustainable sourcing policy and provides information on its website to inform consumers about its products.
  • All Wild Planet products are pole and line or troll caught—two fishing methods with minimal impacts on other marine life.
  • Wild Planet supports protecting our oceans and has vowed not to source tuna from the proposed high seas ocean sanctuaries of the Western and Central Pacific.
  • The company provides important sustainability information on its canned tuna product labels, which allows its customers to know more about the tuna they buy.
  • Wild Planet advocates for improvements to strengthen fisheries management and shift the tuna industry toward more responsible fishing practices.

Wild Planet Foods is a company dedicated to providing sustainable tuna products. Its Wild Planet and Sustainable Seas brands are found in stores nationwide and its market presence is growing with increased demand for responsibly-caught tuna. Since the last Tuna Guide, Wild Planet updated its procurement policy, strengthening it even further to state its commitment to social responsibility. Wild Planet’s top rank is a reflection of its continued efforts to improve its operations and the larger industry.

Next Can: #3 Whole Foods Market

#1 American Tuna

American Tuna Can

#1 American Tuna

Verdict

A trusted sustainable tuna brand and pole and line tuna advocate.

Ocean Safe Products

All American Tuna and Pole & Line brand canned tuna.

  • All tuna is caught by pole and line—a turtle, shark, and seabird friendly fishing method.
  • All American Tuna products are traceable from sea to can, and have labels that display important product information.
  • American Tuna’s policy and other product information can be found on its website.
  • American Tuna supports local and small-scale tuna fishing and processing in the U.S.
  • American Tuna supports ocean conservation through the creation of marine reserves.

American Tuna is a San Diego-based company founded by six pole and line fishing families. American Tuna works to connect pole and line fishers, and supports the development of more sustainable and socially responsible fisheries. While American Tuna customers have trusted the brand as a more responsible choice when it comes to ocean protection, the company’s move to solidify its eco-practices with a public policy is significant. This increased American Tuna’s rank this year to tie for first place in the Tuna Guide.

Next Can: #4 Ocean Naturals

#3 Whole Foods

Whole Foods 365 Tuna Can

#3 Whole Foods

Verdict

This guide’s top-ranked U.S. retailer has a commitment to sell only responsibly-caught canned tuna by early 2018.

Ocean Safe Products

All 365 Everyday Value brand skipjack and albacore.

  • All 365 Everyday Value tuna is pole and line caught—a fishing method with minimal impacts on other marine life.
  • 365 Everyday Value tuna products indicate the species and catch method on labels.
  • Whole Foods is the first and only U.S. retailer with a commitment to sell only pole and line, handline, or troll caught canned tuna. By early 2018, any canned tuna sold in Whole Foods will be responsibly-caught.
  • Whole Foods will feature more information online and in stores to inform customers about sustainable tuna.
  • Whole Foods has strong traceability systems to ensure that its tuna is responsibly sourced.

Whole Foods has worked for years to provide more sustainable seafood for customers in its fresh and frozen departments. In March 2017, Whole Foods made history as the first U.S. retailer to commit to selling 100% sustainable canned tuna and upholding strong labor standards. Soon, any canned tuna on store shelves will be sourced from best practice fishing methods like pole and line, handline, or troll. These catch methods benefit small-scale fisheries and significantly reduce the likelihood of human rights violations. This commitment sets the bar for other retailers to follow and sends a strong message to failing tuna brands that their time of ocean destruction is coming to an end.

Next Can: #5 Hy-Vee

#4 Ocean Naturals

Ocean Naturals Tuna Can

#4 Ocean Naturals

Verdict

Global tuna company Tri Marine provides responsibly-caught tuna.

Ocean Safe Products

All Ocean Naturals brand canned tuna.

  • Ocean Naturals FAD-free skipjack and pole and line caught albacore tuna is fully traceable from ship to shelf.
  • Ocean Naturals product labels provide information about the fishing method that helps customers ensure they are making a better choice.
  • Ocean Naturals’ website provides customers clear information about the sustainability of its products.
  • Tri Marine has a public commitment against destructive practices like shark finning and reflects this commitment by offering pole and troll caught albacore tuna.
  • Tri Marine needs to be more clear about how it ensures social responsibility in its supply chains.

Ocean Naturals is owned by Tri Marine—one of the largest tuna traders in the world. When introduced a few years ago, this responsibly-caught brand offered a clear alternative to destructive national brands. The closing of Tri Marine’s American Samoa processing plant leaves questions about the future and direction of Ocean Naturals. Tri Marine must continue to help lead the industry in the right direction and use its clout to ensure that more responsibly-caught tuna replaces destructive tuna lining supermarket shelves.

Next Can: #6 Wegmans

#5 Hy-Vee

Hy-Vee Tuna Can

#5 Hy-Vee

Verdict

Some better options on shelves, with improvements ahead.

Ocean Safe Products

Hy-Vee Select “Responsible Choice” skipjack and albacore.

  • Hy-Vee offers responsibly-caught pole and line skipjack and pole and troll albacore under its “Responsible Choice” Hy-Vee Select brand.
  • Hy-Vee’s website and blog are great resources for customers to learn about seafood sustainability.
  • Hy-Vee offers a pole and line caught yellowfin tuna product, but there are stock health concerns with some of its sourcing.
  • While Hy-Vee’s new tuna commitment is a welcome sign, questions remain about its implementation timeline.
  • Hy-Vee must build on its sustainable tuna commitment to integrate social standards that protect workers (e.g., ensuring no transshipment at sea, ensuring strong labor standards are upheld on fishing vessels).

Hy-Vee is an employee-owned private company operating in the Midwest. Ocean lovers rejoice: this retailer is serious about sustainable seafood. It even has a blog featuring seafood sustainability. Hy-Vee will likely move into the green category as it implements its sustainable tuna commitments and addresses key social responsibility issues that protect workers’ rights. Based on its leadership thus far, expect big changes ahead.

Next Can: #7 Giant Eagle

#6 Wegmans

Wegmans Tuna Can

#6 Wegmans

Verdict

A retailer driven to make a difference and it shows.

Ocean Safe Products

Look for Wegmans brand pole and line canned tuna, coming soon.

  • Wegmans was one of the first U.S. retailers to release a detailed sustainable tuna policy. It is actively working to implement its policy (e.g., source from healthier tuna stocks, offer responsibly-caught tuna).
  • Wegmans does not support sourcing longline caught tuna that is transshipped at sea, a practice that puts fishers at risk of human rights abuses and contributes to destructive, illegal, and untraceable fishing.
  • Along with providing point of sale information in stores, Wegmans should reinstate its sustainable seafood website, which for years had extensive information to guide customers toward responsible choices.
  • Wegmans must improve its auditing procedures to independently evaluate sustainability and social responsibility claims from suppliers.
  • Wegmans currently sources from vessels that use destructive fishing practices and must improve its standards to ensure that its tuna is not connected to human rights violations.

Founded by the Wegman family, this retailer takes pride in offering its customers quality products. Its seafood team has worked hard for years to offer more sustainable seafood. This is welcome news for customers committed to protecting the oceans and workers’ rights, and sends a message to big tuna brands that it’s time to lead too. If Wegmans works to ensure that its own brand tuna is responsibly-caught, increases information available to customers, and prioritizes its social standards, this Rochester-based retailer will be well on its way to the green category.

Next Can: #8 Albertsons

#7 Giant Eagle

Giant Eagle Tuna Can

#7 Giant Eagle

Verdict

A good pole and line option, though there’s more work to do.

Ocean Safe Products

Nature's Basket brand pole and line albacore.

  • Giant Eagle’s Nature’s Basket albacore tuna is pole and line caught—a turtle, shark, and seabird friendly fishing method.
  • Giant Eagle was the first U.S. retailer to release a public canned tuna policy, providing customers with detailed information about its sourcing practices and sustainability issues.
  • While it provides a wealth of sustainable seafood information online, Giant Eagle must improve information at the point of sale to help customers make responsible tuna choices.
  • Giant Eagle’s policy addresses problem practices like transshipment at sea, although it remains unclear how it is working to ensure that all of its tuna is socially responsible.
  • Giant Eagle brand tuna is sourced from destructive fishing methods like purse seines using FADs and conventional longlines.

Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle has come a long way in recent years on sustainable seafood, and is actively working to improve its canned tuna. While customers can trust its Nature’s Basket pole and line caught albacore tuna, its Giant Eagle brand tuna is still caught using destructive fishing methods. Giant Eagle can improve by ensuring that any of its own brand canned tuna is responsibly-sourced and by publicly stating how it will ensure its tuna adheres to strict social responsibility standards.

Next Can: #9 ALDI

#8 Albertsons

Albertsons Open Nature Tuna Can

#8 Albertsons

Verdict

Some good options, but Albertsons has much more work to do.

Ocean Safe Products

Open Nature brand skipjack and albacore—avoid the rest.

  • Open Nature skipjack and albacore tuna is pole and line caught, reducing bycatch of other species.
  • Albertsons’ tuna commitment should help ensure that all of its own brand canned tuna is responsibly-caught, like its Open Nature brand.
  • Albertsons is working to provide more information for customers about its canned tuna at the point of sale and online; however, its implementation timeline remains unclear.
  • Signature Kitchens canned tuna is sourced from destructive fishing methods like purse seines using using FADs and conventional longlines.
  • To ensure socially responsible products, Albertsons must commit to remove questionable practices like transshipment at sea from its tuna supply chains and clarify its social standards specific to canned tuna.

Following Albertsons’ acquisition of Safeway, the recently merged company is the fourth largest grocery retailer in the U.S. As a major seller of canned tuna, it’s encouraging that Albertsons is getting serious about improving its seafood sustainability. To hold a leadership position in the U.S. market, Albertsons must transition away from destructively caught tuna, strengthen its social responsibility commitments specific to tuna, and continue to improve its traceability systems.

Next Can: #10 Ahold Delhaize

#9 ALDI

ALDI Northern Catch Tuna Can

#9 ALDI

Verdict

One of the latest retailers to offer responsibly-caught canned tuna.

Ocean Safe Products

Northern Catch FAD-free and pole and line skipjack.

  • Northern Catch skipjack tuna is FAD-free or pole and line caught—great news for juvenile tuna, sharks, and rays.
  • While ALDI has made significant strides with its tuna policy and improvements in stores nationwide, it needs to clean up the rest of its longline caught albacore tuna and ensure these improvements are here to stay.
  • ALDI’s social responsibility standards are strong. However, it’s unclear how ALDI ensures that its suppliers comply with these standards, and whether ALDI will remove problem practices like transshipment at sea from its supply chains.
  • Some of ALDI’s albacore is sourced from stocks where there is a high risk of overfishing occurring.
  • ALDI needs to clearly and transparently demonstrate how it ensures compliance with its policies.

Discount retailer ALDI is moving into a leadership role on responsibly-caught tuna, through its tuna commitments and introduction of FAD-free and pole and line caught Northern Catch skipjack tuna. ALDI would perform much better in the Tuna Guide if it increased its supply chain transparency. ALDI’s challenge is to maintain its course and improve its commitments to sustainable seafood and social responsibility. If it does, customers seeking accessible, responsibly-caught tuna may soon start flocking to ALDI instead of its competitors.

Next Can: #11 Kroger

#10 Ahold Delhaize

Ahold Delhaize Food Lion Tuna Can

#10 Ahold Delhaize

Verdict

There’s promise for this retailer if it jumps on board with responsibly-caught canned tuna.

Ocean Safe Products

Nature’s Promise skipjack and albacore. Avoid the rest.

  • Nature’s Promise skipjack and albacore tuna is pole and line caught, resulting in minimal impacts on other marine life. This brand also has useful labels that inform customers of its benefits.
  • As a recently merged company, Ahold Delhaize is continuing to prioritize sustainable seafood and was transparent throughout the Tuna Guide survey process.
  • Ahold Delhaize has strong social responsibility standards; however, it needs a time-bound public policy that informs its customers as to how it will offer responsible tuna.
  • Its larger Food Lion brand canned tuna is sourced from destructive fishing methods like purse seines using FADs and conventional longlines.
  • Ahold Delhaize must improve its process to verify suppliers’ claims and lead U.S. retailers by removing transshipment at sea from its operations.

Ahold Delhaize is a new kid on the U.S. retail block. Ahold and Delhaize, known for stores such as Giant, Hannaford, and Food Lion, merged in 2016 creating the fifth largest U.S. retailer. While this newer company offers pole and line caught tuna under its Nature’s Promise brand, it still sells large amounts of destructively caught tuna. Change could be on the horizon. This would be welcome news for the oceans, seafood workers, and customers seeking responsibly-caught tuna.

Next Can: #12 Target

#11 Kroger

Kroger Tuna Can

#11 Kroger

Verdict

Big changes underway for one of the country’s largest retailers.

Ocean Safe Prodcts

Look for responsibly-caught Kroger brand pole and line products, coming soon.

  • In response to international scandals documenting human rights abuses in the seafood industry, Kroger has publicly committed to improve its practices—making clear to suppliers that Kroger will not tolerate human rights violations.
  • Kroger is introducing more responsibly-caught own brand products in 2017.
  • Kroger should provide more public information about its progress on responsibly-caught tuna, including how it will address environmental and labor concerns associated with problematic practices like transshipment at sea.
  • Most Kroger brand tuna comes from destructive fisheries that take a massive toll on marine life like sharks and turtles.
  • Kroger relies on third party labels and industry-friendly standards to inform its tuna purchasing. It does not yet have a comprehensive canned tuna policy covering sustainability and social responsibility.

Kroger is the largest traditional U.S. grocery chain and could be a powerful force to help improve ocean health. In a sea change from the last Tuna Guide, Kroger fully participated in the survey process. This demonstrates increased transparency and an openness to improve its canned tuna. Kroger is launching new responsibly-caught products and new product labels with more information about the tuna inside cans. Kroger can continue to build momentum by developing a strong, public procurement policy that ensures all of its own brand tuna is responsibly-caught. This would also signal to big brands like Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee, and StarKist: shape up or get off store shelves.

Next Can: #13 Costco

#12 Target

Target Market Pantry Tuna Can

#12 Target

Verdict

Simply Balanced is the only safe bet—avoid the rest.

Ocean Safe Products

Simply Balanced brand skipjack and albacore.

  • Simply Balanced skipjack and albacore tuna is pole and line caught, resulting in negligible impacts on other marine life.
  • Simply Balanced products contain comprehensive labeling that includes how the species was caught.
  • Target needs to get a better handle on its tuna traceability and not rely on its suppliers for all of its sourcing information.
  • Market Pantry brand tuna is sourced from fisheries employing destructive fishing methods like purse seines using FADs and conventional longlines.
  • Target has zero public commitments or policies to provide customers with responsibly-caught canned tuna.

Target’s big box store concept is based on offering low prices and trendy products nationwide. While Target made progress when it launched its Simply Balanced brand, since then it’s failed to significantly improve. Target led U.S. retailers by banning farmed salmon in its stores—where is that same level of leadership on responsible canned tuna? It’s time for Target to swim away from its sea of ocean destruction and commit to offering responsibly-caught tuna.

Next Can: #14 SUPERVALU

#13 Costco

Costco Kirkland Signature Tuna Can

#13 Costco

Verdict

Kirkland customers beware, you may need to seek better canned tuna elsewhere.

Ocean Safe Products

None.

  • Costco offered FAD-free Kirkland Signature brand skipjack tuna in 2016, but this product could not be found on store shelves or online as of the release of this ranking.
  • Kirkland Signature albacore tuna has a helpful traceability website providing information about what’s in the can; however, Costco provides little to no information at the point of sale about more sustainable choices.
  • Kirkland Signature albacore tuna is caught by destructive longlines that lead to bycatch of threatened species like sharks.
  • Some Kirkland Signature brand tuna is sourced from stocks of concern.
  • Costco’s tuna sourcing policy fails to address destructive fishing practices or problematic practices linked to human rights abuses, like transshipment at sea.

Costco Wholesale Corporation is a membership-based warehouse club, and the third largest retail chain in the U.S. Costco made waves in 2014 with its FAD-free Kirkland Signature skipjack tuna, but since then this popular retailer is tanking on its tuna commitments. Costco needs to get serious about offering Kirkland Signature customers responsibly-caught tuna and ensure that it’s available on Costco’s giant store shelves nationwide. Until then, unless it’s a sustainable national brand like Wild Planet, you just can’t trust the canned tuna at Costco.

Next Can: #15 Chicken of the Sea

#14 SUPERVALU

SUPERVALU Wild Harvest Tuna Can

#14 SUPERVALU

Verdict

This Tuna Guide newcomer is on the cusp of big improvements.

Ocean Safe Products

Wild Harvest pole and line albacore. Avoid the rest.

  • Wild Harvest pole and line caught albacore tuna is a turtle, shark, and seabird safe product.
  • SUPERVALU does not have a public facing tuna policy that details how it will provide responsibly-caught canned tuna in a reasonable timeframe, although there are encouraging signs that this may change.
  • Some of SUPERVALU’s Essential Everyday brand tuna is caught with destructive fishing methods like purse seines fishing on FADs and conventional longlines.
  • SUPERVALU must offer its customers information in stores and online about how they can make better tuna choices.
  • SUPERVALU lacks comprehensive auditing procedures to ensure that the tuna it is sourcing is responsibly-caught.

SUPERVALU is better known by its store banners such as Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Shop ‘n Save, and Shoppers. This is SUPERVALU’s Tuna Guide debut. While the retailer did not receive a passing score, its efforts to clean up its own brand tuna are not going unnoticed. In addition to offering customers responsibly-caught pole and line albacore, SUPERVALU appears open to improving its canned tuna. This is positive news for the oceans, seafood workers, and customers. If SUPERVALU stays on track, it will most certainly improve its ranking.

Next Can: #16 Trader Joe's

#15 Chicken of the Sea

Chicken of the Sea Tuna Can

#15 Chicken of the Sea

Verdict

Bold claims by its parent company, but no improvements for Chicken of the Sea cans.

Ocean Safe Products

None.

  • Chicken of the Sea has a sustainability commitment on its website including an anti-shark finning policy; however, it fails to address how it will provide 100% responsibly-caught products.
  • Chicken of the Sea has a policy covering social responsibility, but it remains unclear whether its standards are being met across its supply chains.
  • Chicken of the Sea sources its tuna from destructive fishing methods that unnecessarily kill vulnerable marine life.
  • Chicken of the Sea did not complete the Tuna Guide survey, leaving questions about where its tuna is caught and the health of the tuna stocks it sources from.
  • Chicken of the Sea claims it is committed to transparency, but provides little information on product labels about where and how its tuna is caught.

Chicken of the Sea—owned by Thai Union, the world’s largest tuna company—is the third largest U.S. tuna brand. Greenpeace is campaigning for Thai Union to end its reliance on destructive tuna fisheries. While Chicken of the Sea claims it’s dedicated to sustainable products, it doesn’t offer a single one in the U.S. As Thai Union works to strengthen its sourcing requirements, it could lead the U.S. market if Chicken of the Sea became the first big national brand to sell responsibly-caught tuna. Until then, relying on transshipment at sea, sourcing from purse seines employing FADs that kill threatened species like sharks, and being unclear about the health of the tuna stocks it sources from means one thing: the oceans and seafood workers are still put at risk to fill this brand’s cans.

Next Can: #17 Bumble Bee

#16 Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's Tuna Can

#16 Trader Joe's

Verdict

Some good options, but this popular retailer’s lack of progress spells trouble for the oceans.

Ocean Safe Products

Trader Joe’s brand skipjack tuna.

  • Trader Joe’s brand skipjack and yellowfin tuna is pole and line caught—a more selective fishing method.
  • Trader Joe’s still has not released a public tuna policy detailing how it will ensure that its products are responsibly-caught.
  • Trader Joe’s does not have a social responsibility policy to ensure that its tuna comes from operations that are free from human rights abuses.
  • It is unclear how Trader Joe’s addresses environmental and labor concerns associated with problematic practices like transshipment at sea.
  • Trader Joe’s sources some of its tuna from unhealthy stocks.

Trader Joe’s operates hundreds of stores nationwide. The retailer’s previously taken action to improve its canned tuna, but years later it appears to have stalled out. Trader Joe’s is not winning at transparency, with no clear policy anywhere that outlines its tuna sourcing requirements. Trader Joe’s must ensure that all products, including its own brand albacore tuna products, are responsibly-caught. Trader Joe’s has shown before that it can take leadership to protect the oceans. The time has come (again) to prove it.

Next Can: #18 Walmart

#17 Bumble Bee

Bumble Bee Tuna Can

#17 Bumble Bee

Verdict

Cute bee, bad tuna. For the love of the oceans, avoid this brand and its greenwashing.

Ocean Safe Products

Wild Selections brand “light tuna”

  • Bumble Bee offers some pole and line caught Marine Stewardship Council certified skipjack tuna under a separate brand, Wild Selections.
  • Bumble Bee has sustainability and social responsibility policies online, as well as a way for customers to trace their tuna, but its standards should be stronger.
  • Bumble Bee does not offer any responsibly-caught options under its flagship brand.
  • Bumble Bee can labels still do not indicate the common name of the species (e.g., skipjack) found in the can or how it was caught.
  • Bumble Bee has not made a commitment to introduce responsibly-caught products under its flagship brand.

Bumble Bee Foods, North America’s largest shelf stable seafood company, occupies over a quarter of the U.S. canned tuna market. Unfortunately, it’s not using its market power to demonstrably help the oceans or seafood workers. Bumble Bee needs to stop talking about sustainability and act to put responsibly-caught tuna in its flagship brand’s cans. Its traceability website is great on transparency, but it would be so much better if its tuna traced back to sustainable fisheries. By introducing its Wild Selection brand, Bumble Bee is providing products for customers seeking responsibly-caught tuna. Now it’s time to cut the greenwashing claims with its Bumble Bee brand and provide better options.

Next Can: #19 H‑E‑B

#18 Walmart

Great Value Tuna Can

#18 Walmart

Verdict

Great Value is anything but great for sharks and turtles. Avoid any Walmart brand canned tuna.

Ocean Safe Products

None.

  • Walmart’s Great Value canned tuna is sourced from destructive fishing methods like purse seines employing FADs and conventional longlines that kill tons of marine life as bycatch.
  • Great Value tuna products lack important labeling information, such as what species is actually in the can.
  • Walmart’s canned tuna policy is riddled with loopholes and relies on weak, industry-friendly standards.
  • Walmart has zero transparency. It does not provide customers with information about its canned tuna, and refused to complete the Tuna Guide survey.
  • Walmart does not have a strong commitment to offer its customers any responsibly-caught tuna within a reasonable timeframe.

Walmart is the world’s largest retailer and sells about one out of every four cans of tuna in the U.S. Rather than lead, Walmart has chosen to drown in a sea of dirty tuna. Walmart continues to fail, refusing to clean up its destructive Great Value brand canned tuna. Subject of a Greenpeace campaign and faced with human rights abuse scandals linked to its seafood supply chains, Walmart continues to issue empty promises while selling customers destructive and potentially unethical canned tuna. Don’t believe the greenwashing. Any customer that cares about sustainability and human rights should shop elsewhere for tuna, period.

Next Can: #20 StarKist

#19 H‑E‑B

H‑E‑B Tuna Can

#19 H‑E‑B

Verdict

A big fail for the oceans, consumer confidence, and H‑E‑B’s brand.

Ocean Safe Products

None.

  • H‑E‑B, Hill Country Fare, and Central Market brand canned tuna are sourced from destructive fishing methods that result in bycatch of marine life.
  • While H‑E‑B provides some information about its policies and traceability online, its vague claims do not detail how it works to provide responsibly-caught tuna.
  • H‑E‑B product labels provide no information about the tuna inside cans.
  • H‑E‑B is not transparent about the origins of its tuna and never replied to Greenpeace’s multiple inquiries to complete the Tuna Guide survey.

So much for Texas pride. San Antonio-based H‑E‑B is failing big time. From vague policies to scant public information and failure to participate in Greenpeace’s evaluation process, it begs the question: what does H‑E‑B have to hide? H‑E‑B used to be transparent about its initiatives, and then something happened. It’s unclear how H‑E‑B is addressing destructive fishing, illegal fishing, and rampant human rights abuses in the seafood industry. If you’re looking for responsibly-caught canned tuna, visit Whole Foods—another Texas-based chain that is actually offering its customers better options.

#20 StarKist

StarKist Tuna Can

#20 StarKist

Verdict

Failed again! StarKist continues its trend of ocean destruction.

Ocean Safe Products

None.

  • StarKist’s vague corporate responsibility statement on its website fails to explain how it’s prioritizing sustainable fishing or protecting human rights.
  • StarKist product labels provide no information about the tuna inside cans.
  • Starkist sources from destructive fisheries that kill tons of marine life as bycatch.
  • StarKist is not transparent about the origins of its tuna and refused, yet again, to provide Greenpeace with meaningful information about its operations.

StarKist—owned by global seafood giant, Dongwon—has the largest market share of any canned tuna brand in the U.S. Scraping the bottom of the Tuna Guide for a second time, StarKist’s failure to take sustainability seriously is devastating the oceans—all while it continues to sell cheap and dirty tuna nationwide. It is not only the lowest-ranked brand, but along with other failing brands, it’s dragging down the industry. StarKist must work to ensure healthy oceans, or the day may come when Charlie the Tuna is no more.

Demand Better Tuna

Chicken of the Sea is owned by the world’s largest tuna company—Thai Union. Thanks to your support, Thai Union is exploring ways to ensure its products are responsibly caught. It’s up to us to ensure that Chicken of the Sea commits to protect the oceans and human rights.

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Decode the Can

Tuna labels can be confusing and make it hard to actually know what you’re buying. Here is a list of terms that you may find on a label to help you better understand what is actually in the can!

Albacore

Commonly found in cans in the U.S. Also known as white meat or white tuna. Some stocks are healthy, some are not. Hard to know without additional information about where it was caught. Pacific stocks are in better shape.

Bigeye

One of the most overfished tuna species. Listed as a vulnerable species by the IUCN. Avoid these products.

Bycatch

Marine life unintentionally caught and often killed when fishing, like sharks, turtles, and juvenile tuna. Some fishing methods have a higher rate of bycatch than others such as conventional longlines and purse seines employing fish aggregating devices (FADs).

Circle Hook (also Longline fishing or Longlining)

This is a fishing method where a fishing line, often several miles long, is set out into the ocean with secondary lines containing baited hooks to catch tuna. Because it is so indiscriminate, sea turtles and other marine life often take the bait. By making the hooks more circular, it reduces the likelihood of turtles being caught on the hook. It means the brand is trying to lessen its impact on marine life, but it does not mean it is 100% sustainable.

Country of Origin

This means where the tuna was caught.

Country of Production

This means where most of the processing has taken place.

Dolphin Safe / Dolphin Friendly

Dolphin Safe

Dolphin safe does not mean ocean safe. It means that one fishing method that targets tuna that swim with dolphins is not used to catch the tuna. What about the rays and turtles?!

FADs or Fish Aggregating Devices

Fish and marine life are attracted to these floating objects. When used with purse seine nets they can result in the catch and death of various species.

FAD-Free

This tuna was caught by purse seine nets without the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs), which attract and result in the catch of lots of animals other than tuna. FAD-free is a better choice.

Free School Caught

This is another way of saying FAD-Free. It means that the tuna were caught by purse seine nets not using fish aggregating devices (FADs) or setting on marine mammals. Other marine life are less impacted when fishing free school, so it is a better option.

Friend of the Sea

Friend of the Sea

This phrase actually indicates a certification scheme of sustainable seafood products from fisheries and aquaculture. Not the most rigorous of certifications. Make sure to look at how the tuna was caught and if the species is a better option.

Handline

A single fishing line is held in a fisher’s hand to catch tuna one-by-one. Impacts on other species are minimal. Handline is a more sustainable choice.

Illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing

Also known as pirate fishing, this often means stolen fish and exacerbates the overfishing crisis.

Light tuna

A term used to refer to skipjack, yellowfin, and sometimes bigeye tuna. Most often it will be skipjack, but check the ingredients list to be sure.

Long lines (also Longliners or Longlining)

Fishing lines sometimes dozens of miles long, baited with thousands of hooks. Very indiscriminate fishing gear and highly destructive.

Marine reserves (or Ocean sanctuaries)

Similar to national parks on land, they are areas free from fishing and other industrial activities. Safe havens like this are essential to replenish marine ecosystems.

MSC

MSC

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is a certification scheme for wild fisheries. MSC certified products are supposed to meet certain sustainability criteria. Certified products carry a blue and white logo with a fish and check mark. In many cases, it means a better option for tuna, but best to also look for what species is inside and how it was caught.

No Longlines

Tuna caught without using longlines, which stretch for miles with thousands of hooks that can cause the drowning of species incidentally caught like seabirds, sharks, and turtles. “No longlines” on the label is a sign of an ocean safe option!

Ocean Wise

Ocean Wise

The Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise logo can be found on some products that the organization deems sustainable. Ocean Wise recommendations are determined using the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program assessment methodology. Likely a better option, but best to check the fishing method and species.

Pole and Line Caught (could read just “Pole Caught”)

A fishing method that catches tuna one-by-one with the use of a pole. Usually several fishers line the perimeter of a boat and catch tuna at the same time using baitfish. Impacts on other species are minimal. A best choice.

Pole and Troll Caught

This means the tuna was either caught using pole and line or troll. The tuna was not separated to help determine the exact fishing method it came from, so the specific method is not labeled. Both are better options.

Product of

Most of the processing of that product has occurred in the named country.

Purse seines

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

Responsibly Caught

If found on a product label, you may need to dig a little deeper to find out what this means before taking their word for it. Truly responsibly-caught tuna considers the current and long-term health of the tuna stocks sourced from, the ocean ecosystems that support them, and the people working in, and impacted by, the tuna industry.

Skipjack

The most abundant species of tuna. Often noted as light tuna on the can.

Sustainably Caught

Unless this is accompanied by information about the species and how it was caught, don’t take their word for it.

Tongol

A species occasionally found in cans in the U.S. Less is known about tongol stocks than other tuna species, so it’s best to avoid these products.

Transshipped at sea (or Transshipment at sea)

When fishing vessels offload their products to other boats at sea so vessels can continue fishing for months or years at a time. Transshipment is often associated with human rights abuse, illegal fishing, and smuggling shark fins.

Troll Caught (also Troll)

A method of fishing known as trolling where one or more jigged fishing lines are towed through the water behind a slow moving boat. A jig is a rubber lure. It is a selective method with minimal catch of other marine life. A much better option.

Turtle Safe

This means that a fishing method was employed that prevents the accidental catch of turtles. It’s usually found on products caught using pole or troll methods.

White tuna

A term used to describe albacore tuna.

Wild Caught

This just means that the tuna was caught in the ocean and not farmed (which is very rare for canned tuna species). It sounds nice, but means nothing when it comes to its sustainability.

Yellowfin

A species often found in cans in the U.S. Sometimes referred to as light meat. Many stocks have been overfished and have suffered declines. Best to avoid.