(Worldwide Except Hawaii and U.S. Atlantic, Longline)
Yellowfin tuna is found throughout most of the world's oceans. Many types of gear are used to catch tuna. Not all yellowfin fisheries use ocean-friendly methods and some populations are overfished. Look for troll-pole yellowfin as the most sustainable option.
Ahi, Canned Light Tuna, Maguro
In the U.S. yellowfin is widely available as canned light tuna. It's often called ahi when sold fresh and frozen, and maguro when prepared for sushi.
Environmental Defense Fund has issued a consumption advisory for longline-caught yellowfin tuna due to elevated levels of mercury. (No consumption advisories are listed for troll/pole-caught yellowfin as these methods catch younger tuna with lower mercury levels.)
Tuna are fast-growing fish that reproduce at an early age and produce plentiful offspring - traits that can help them withstand heavy fishing. However, as one of the top three seafood items sold in the U.S., tuna is in high demand and many populations are declining.
Yellowfin is caught with troll, pole-and-line, longline and purse seine gear. There is little or no bycatch when yellowfin is caught with troll or pole-and-line gear. However, longlines result in large quantities of bycatch, including threatened or endangered species such as sea turtles, sharks and seabirds. Since there are no international laws to reduce bycatch, longlines are contributing heavily to the long-term decline of some of these species.
The bycatch associated with purse seining for yellowfin can also be considerable, especially when purse seines are set around natural floating objects or when "fish aggregating devices" (FADs) are used. Bycatch can include young tunas and other fishes and sharks. There is considerably less bycatch when FADs aren't used - a method known as "unassociated purse seining." Unfortunately, yellowfin caught this way is not kept separate from the less environmentally friendly caught tuna and consumers have no way of differentiating the two.
Look for yellowfin caught with troll or pole-and-line. U.S. Atlantic and Pacific troll or pole-caught yellowfin is a "Best Choice." Most longline-caught yellowfin is ranked "Avoid." A notable exception is longline-caught yellowfin from the U.S. Atlantic or Hawaii, where strict bycatch regulations result in a "Good Alternative" ranking.