Photo: How you catch tuna matters

Canadians who love eating tuna may not be so thrilled when they learn how much of it is caught unsustainably. SeaChoice delved into tuna and other seafood in its Taking Stock report, the first comprehensive look at Canadian seafood imports and exports. The report finds that Canada exports more seafood than it imports, and more of the exports than imports are sustainable.

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Canada imports albacore, bigeye, yellowfin, bluefin and skipjack tuna. Skipjack tuna is among Canada's top three red ranked — or "avoid" — seafood imports, along with farmed shrimp and salmon. These three make up more than 80 per cent of red-ranked imports.

Most tuna (including skipjack) is caught using a purse seine, where cup-shaped nets are dropped into water, and the net's rim is pinched at the top to trap fish. While some of the world's tuna is caught using sustainable practices, most imported skipjack is caught using fish-aggregating devices. These devices are basically buoys and floats on the ocean surface that attract tuna but also lure bycatch such as juvenile tuna, sea turtles and sharks, making the fishery unsustainable.

Using purse seines without fish-aggregating devices reduces the level of bycatch, making this tuna yellow-ranked ("some concerns"), according to SeaChoice. Tuna caught using pole-and-line methods has a green "best choice" ranking.

If you're concerned about the health of oceans and marine life, make an ocean-friendly decision and buy tuna with a green SeaChoice label at participating retailers. Check out Greenpeace Canada's canned tuna sustainability rankings to see how your favourite brand stacks up.

June 13, 2016

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