Find out what we considered when assessing and ranking different tuna brands to help you decide which choice is best for you and the environment.
Greenpeace obtained the information in the ranking from the companies through a standardized survey, correspondence, publicly available information, and in-store surveys. We scored the companies based on their performance in the following key areas:
Does the company have a written sustainability and equitability policy with clearly defined canned tuna sourcing requirements that address the key issues outlined below?
Health of tuna stocks
Does the tuna come from stocks that are healthy and not overfished or being fished beyond their ability to rejuvenate?
Is the tuna traceable from sea to can to store shelf? Are audits conducted to ensure the information is accurate?
Fishing methods used
Is the tuna caught using methods that avoid catching other marine life like sharks and turtles and baby tuna? Or is it caught using indiscriminate fishing methods such as conventional longlines and purse seines employing fish aggregating devices (FADs)?
Product labeling & consumer education
How easy is it for customers to know what is in the can? Can they find additional product information elsewhere without searching too hard?
Support for marine reserves & promoting industry change
Are proposed and existing marine reserves avoided by tuna fisheries sourced from? Is the company proactive in improving the industry, lessening its impact, and addressing the challenges our oceans face?
Commitment to ethical labor practices throughout the supply chain
Does the company know who is catching its tuna and how they are being treated? Is it committed to ensuring the well-being of workers throughout its supply chain? Is it actively working to stop forced labor?
Avoiding illegal, unreported, or unregulated products
Can a company guarantee that its tuna supply chain does not include operators that engage in illegal activities that undermine fisheries management and exacerbate the overfishing crisis?
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!
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.
One of the most overfished tuna species. Listed as a vulnerable species by the IUCN. Avoid these products.
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).
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.
This means where the tuna was caught.
This means where most of the processing has taken place.
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?!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Also known as pirate fishing, this often means stolen fish and exacerbates the overfishing crisis.
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.
Fishing lines sometimes dozens of miles long, baited with thousands of hooks. Very indiscriminate fishing gear and highly destructive.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Most of the processing of that product has occurred in the named country.
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.
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.
The most abundant species of tuna. Often noted as light tuna on the can.
Unless this is accompanied by information about the species and how it was caught, don’t take their word for it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A term used to describe albacore tuna.
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.
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.