Is Your Canned Tuna Brand Part of the Solution for Our Oceans?

Some of the biggest and most recognizable tuna brands in Canada are actively hiding their dubious fishing practices. It’s hard to know which brands you can trust to ensure your meal isn’t made from overfished, destructively fished, unethical tuna.

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Is Your Canned Tuna Brand Part of the Solution for Our Oceans?

 
 
 

Is your canned tuna brand part of the solution for our oceans? Some of the biggest, most popular and trusted tuna brands are actively hiding their dubious fishing practices. It’s hard to know which brands you can trust to ensure your meal isn’t made from overfished, destructively fished, unethical tuna. Luckily for tuna-lovers, and our oceans, more and more brands are working to set themselves apart from the rest, and offer products that are more sustainable and socially responsible.

Greenpeace ranks brands in various countries on the sustainability and social responsibility of their canned tuna sourcing policies and practices. As consumers increasingly want responsibly sourced food, Greenpeace’s rankings can help serve as guides to help shoppers make informed decisions about their favourite tuna brands.

A growing number of better tuna options are available in major tuna markets around the world. Brands like Raincoast Trading, American Tuna, Wild Planet, Fish 4 Ever, Greenseas, essential Waitrose, simply M&S, Système U, Frinsa, Sainsbury’s and Ocean Naturals, to name a handful, all received a green rating in a Greenpeace ranking; set apart from the rest for their commitment to only offer more sustainable products.

Numerous other popular brands offer more responsible product options. From the house brands of supermarket chains to new product lines by national brands, over the last few years, momentum has been building toward the shift we need to see in key markets. Some of the brands working to keep up the momentum are noted below.

Whole Foods’ 365 products      Hy-Vee’s “Responsible Choice” product lines

Safcol Australia products          Ocean’s pole and line and FAD-free products

Tesco’s house brand tuna          Costco’s Kirkland Signature skipjack

Trader Joe’s skipjack                   Loblaw’s President’s Choice MSC troll-caught albacore

Pacifical branded products       Metro’s Irresistibles skipjack

Aldi house brand tuna                Target’s Simply Balanced brand

This list is not exhaustive and other brands also measure up. Consulting Greenpeace’s tuna rankings and apps can help inform your purchasing decisions. Beyond ranked and major brands, various smaller companies have chosen to be part of the solution. We sat down with a couple of them located in the Pacific Northwest that sell to the world’s biggest tuna market, the U.S., to hear why they choose to fish sustainably and ethically.

Here is who they are and what they shared with us.

St. Jude
Photo courtesy of St. Jude
 

St. Jude is a family business based in Seattle and owned and operated by Joe and Joyce Malley. Joe owns and operates a 95-foot tuna fishing boat dubbed St. Jude, which spends its time trolling for albacore tuna along North and South Pacific waters. The couple lived and fished aboard St. Jude for some 12 years until starting a family, at which point they went into business marketing their own tuna brand.

The Saint Jude exclusively trolls for albacore tuna. By using this highly targeted fishing method, the fishery produces a minimal catch of non-target species. According to Joe Malley:

“Our generation has taken too much from our greatest resource. The great bluefin populations shrink as we pursue them to the ends of the earth, catching them at every stage of their migration; will they suddenly disappear like the passenger pigeon? My world will become vastly diminished if that happens... If we could simply harvest more wisely, I believe that we could change the world.”

The company website provides a plethora of information on sustainability ratings, with links to organizations promoting sustainable seafood more generally.

Oregon Seafoods
Photo courtesy of Oregon Seafoods
 

After eighteen years working in wood products, Mike Babcock started Oregon Seafoods, becoming a partner in a retail fish market in Coos Bay, Oregon. Spending time with local fishermen who wanted to market sustainable albacore, Mike conceived that Oregon Seafood could produce a high-end, once-cooked albacore tuna locally.

“It just doesn’t make sense to send our premium N.W. Pacific caught albacore to another country for processing when we need jobs to support the families here in the U.S.”

Sea Fare Pacific was created in early 2011 to fulfill that dream. The company purchases wild, troll-caught albacore from U.S. family owned fishing vessels, and the fish is processed year-round, serving the needs of the fishermen and providing year-long employment in the community. Sea Fare Pacific says it strives for high quality, naturally nutritious products, based on a love for the environment and a desire to preserve it for future generations.

There are various other examples of smaller-scale companies providing more sustainable and socially responsible tuna products in their communities. Just further up the coast, Estevan, Finest at Sea and C-fin among others also catch, process and sell troll and pole and line caught albacore from the Pacific Northwest.  Some other smaller-scale brands working to be part of the solution and helping to educate consumers on more responsible choices include Reelfish, Good Fish Tuna and Fish Tales.

In coastal communities from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean and beyond, traditional fishers have been using more selective fishing methods to feed their families and support coastal livelihoods for generations. These fisheries are an integral part of the overall solution. However, we do need major players to take responsibility for the rest of the industry, the part that is out of control.

Greenpeace has launched a global campaign targeting the world’s largest canned tuna producer, Thai Union, and its major brands like Chicken of the Sea, Petit Navire, Mareblu and John West, for its refusal to create change through its supply chains back to the fisheries it sources from. At the heart of the industry, Thai Union has the power to force fisheries to stop being wasteful and destructive and instead fish more responsibly and selectively, ultimately leaving more sea life in the sea.   

But you can help by supporting more responsible brands and by sending a message to Thai Union that you don’t have an appetite for dirty tuna.

Take action and tell Thai Union that you want a strong public commitment to offer tuna that is safe for both our oceans and the workers at sea.