(Canned) (Worldwide, Wild-caught Except Troll/Pole)
Several species of tuna are available in cans or pouches. Many types of gear are used to catch tuna and not all tuna fisheries use ocean-friendly methods. Look for canned tuna that is labeled troll- or pole-caught as the most sustainable options.
Bigeye, Chunk Light, Solid Light, Tongol, Yellowfin
Canned tuna is typically labeled as "white" or "light." White tuna is always albacore. Light may refer to a number of species: bigeye, yellowfin, skipjack or tongol.
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 seafoods in the U.S., tuna is in very high demand and many populations are in decline.
Tuna fisheries use varying types of gear and the amount of bycatch varies widely among different gear types. Troll and pole-and-line gear catches little or no bycatch, while longlines and purse seines can catch large amounts, including threatened or endangered species such as sea turtles, sharks and seabirds.
Seafood Watch has three recommendations for troll/pole canned tuna. This includes two for albacore (white) tuna and one for skipjack (light) tuna. The important thing is to "Avoid" all canned tuna not labeled as troll- or pole-caught. If the label doesn't say troll- or pole-caught then it's safe to assume environmentally damaging gear was used.
Here's how to evaluate canned tuna in stores:
Albacore from the U.S. and British Columbia: "Best Choice" when troll- or pole-caught. These populations are healthy and well managed.
Albacore from other countries: "Good Alternative" when troll- or pole-caught.
Skipjack (light) tuna: "Best Choice" when troll- or pole-caught, since it comes from healthy populations that are well managed. Because canned light tuna can contain a number of tuna species, be sure to look for canned skipjack.