(Worldwide Except U.S. Atlantic, Longline)
A valuable tuna prized for its sashimi-quality flesh, bigeye tuna is found throughout the world's oceans. Although bigeye matures and reproduces quickly, populations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans are declining.
Ahi, Po'onui, Patudo, Maguro, Toro
Bigeye is often sold fresh or frozen by its Hawaiian name ahi and is commonly used for sashimi. When served as sushi it is sold as maguro or toro (tuna belly).
Environmental Defense Fund has issued a health advisory for longline-caught bigeye tuna due to elevated levels of mercury. (No consumption advisories are listed for troll- or pole-and-line-caught bigeye as these methods catch younger tuna with lower mercury levels.)
Bigeye is caught with troll, pole-and-line and longline gear. There is little or no bycatch when bigeye is caught with troll or pole-and-line gear. However, longlines, the most common method, results in large bycatch, including threatened or endangered species such as sea turtles, sharks and seabirds. Since there are no international laws to reduce bycatch, these longline fleets are contributing heavily to the long-term decline of some of these species.
Most of the world's bigeye populations have been depleted due to longline fisheries and longline-caught bigeye is ranked as "Avoid." One notable exception is longline-caught bigeye from the U.S. Atlantic, where strict bycatch regulations and more abundant populations result in a "Good Alternative" ranking.
When possible, look for bigeye caught with troll or pole-and-line which has very low levels of bycatch. In particular, bigeye from the U.S. Atlantic is a "Best Choice."