Tuna is a species that is eaten around the world. You can find it in cans or in the freezer in the supermarket and restaurants regularly serve tuna as a steak or as sushi.
Unfortunately, the popularity of this species is also becoming its downfall. The yellowfin, bigeye and bluefin tuna are all severely overfished. Bluefin and bigeye tuna are mainly sold in countries such as Japan where one fish can costthousands of euros. Yellowfin tuna, on the other hand, can be found in many Dutch restaurants.
The two other species of tuna, albacore, and skipjack are eaten a lot in The Netherlands. Albacore tuna is often frozen, while skipjack tuna is sold canned. Fortunately, these two species are doing much better, as there are enough MSC-certified products to choose from.
Fishermen catch tuna with purse seines, rods or longlines, the latter being the the most harmful method. In this method of fishing, up to half of the catch consists of by-catch of other fish, sea turtles, sharks, rays, or seabirds. Tuna caught with purse seines and rods have significantly fewer by-catches.
In addition to the problem of overfishing, there are many other problems in the tuna fishery. For example, modern slavery is still a common problem in which fishermen sometimes have to work on a ship for weeks on end whilst receiving no pay.
Another problem surrounding tuna is that it quickly spoils and discolours. In Japanese cuisine, tuna is widely used and must be incredibly fresh. To mask that the tuna has spoilt, colouration is used to imitate fresh tuna. This is extremely dangerous for consumers, as they could end up eating spoiled tuna.
Because of the problems surrounding tuna, we recommend in most cases to avoid eating bigeye, bluefin and yellowfin tuna. Skipjack and Albacore tuna can be eaten but it is recommended to choose MSC-certified products. View the extensive VISwijzer for more details.