Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sustainable Tuna. Is there such a thing?

I used to really love fishing. Sometimes I even fantasized about the future when I would have both the time to fish and some grandkids to show how to wait patiently for a bite.

I also loved to eat seafood – tuna steaks and lobsters were my favorites. But after becoming vegetarian 20 years ago, I quit eating seafood. While occasionally I still miss eating fish, I really miss fishing.

A while back, I went to the Seattle Aquarium with my two grandsons. I find aquariums fascinating, now loving fish for the fish themselves – the incredible variety, their stunning beauty, and their joy (I presume) to be alive. While I still feel sad that my fantasy of fishing with the grandkids isn’t going to happen, sharing the wonders of the life of the sea brought joy to all.

However, when lunchtime arrived, I found the cafeteria disquieting. While my opinions represent a minority perspective, it now seems odd that after showing us how wonderful sea creatures are and how our fishing practices are ruining their habitat, I am supposed to revel in the fact that certain fish are not yet endangered, so eat up! At one time that perspective made perfect sense to me as well.

When we got home, I did a little research on sustainable fishing. The Monterey Aquarium has extensive consumer information as a guide. What I found was disconcerting.

For example, under Albacore Tuna (one of seven kinds of tuna the Monterey Aquarium discusses) their summary table advises:

  • The best choice is U.S. Pacific or Canadian Pacific albacore tuna caught by troll or “pole and line.”
  • Avoid all longline albacore caught anywhere in the world (except Hawaii). This is a problem because this method of fishing tends to catch older fish that have accumulated too much mercury.
  • Avoid even “wild-caught” albacore in the North Atlantic.
  • At a retail level canned white tuna is both a “best choice” and an “avoid.”
  • All the other market names they give – Longfin Tunny, Shiro Maguro, and Tombo are also confusingly both a “best choice” and an “avoid.”

So, all of the market names are both the best and the worst!

The bottom line is that consumers wanting to learn about sustainable or healthier albacore tuna find information that is, at best, confusing. And if the world of tuna eaters all ate just the tuna from the U.S. or Canada Pacific, how long would that be sustainable? Does this seem nuts to anyone else?

If you want a truly sustainable tuna sandwich – try ours. There is no threat to the health or the population of Garbanzo Beans (the base of our “hold the Tuna”) – that we know of.

Bon appétit!

By Dr. Carl Myers


  1. Yes, it sure seems nuts to me, too. I find it absolutely astounding the lengths to which environmentally minded people (especially) will go in order not to have to give up anything - especially their fish and meat.

    Just discovered your blog, and I think I'm going to like it!

  2. Bardzo dobry wpis. Znalazłem Twojego bloga w google.