Today marks World Tuna Day 2021 and today we choose; we choose to support local coastal communities, we choose to protect our oceans from harmful subsidies, we choose to eat tuna that has been sourced with respect to the ocean, the biodiversity, and the fishers. How do you #ChooseYourTuna?
Six Steps On How To #ChooseYourTuna In 2021
If you look in your cupboard right now, would you find a can of tuna? Most likely. Being such a durable product, a can of tuna can last in the kitchen for months. If canned tuna isn’t for you, think about that spicy tuna roll, or a fresh poké bowl in the sunshine. Now, do you know how it got to you? And no, we don’t mean from your local supermarket or favourite sushi restaurant, but do you really know where that tuna came from?
Tuna makes its way to your plate via a number of different steps, the first being when it is caught. One way of fishing uses massive industrial fishing vessels and enormous nets or longlines to catch as much fish as possible. Another method is known as small-scale fishing from community-based fisheries and uses one hook and one line, to catch one fish at a time. The impacts on both the environment and the fishers themselves are vastly different between fishing methods, and it’s important to be able to distinguish them when choosing which tuna to buy.
Choosing tuna that is sustainably caught can have powerful economic, social and environmental benefits. If the global pandemic and lockdown has shown us anything, it’s the importance of paying more attention to what we eat, how we eat it, and how we can support local businesses.
Read on to learn how you can make small, tangible but direct changes when choosing your tuna, so that the next time you order that spicy tuna roll, you can enjoy every bite knowing that you’ve made the healthier choice, for you, for fishers, and for the ocean. Here are 6 simple steps to follow;
1. Respecting The Ocean – sustainable tuna *is* possible for you
Choosing the most sustainably caught tuna starts with acknowledging where our tuna lives – in the beautiful, vast blue ocean. Our oceans are the home of marine wildlife that make up complex ecosystems that we want to preserve so they can continue to thrive for future generations. To respect the ocean, we must support fisheries that have a minimal environmental impact, so it does not affect other ocean species or ecosystems. Choosing one-by-one caught tuna (being pole-and-line, handline, or troll) from coastal small-scale fisheries is the only tuna fishing method for us, which is considered to be environmentally safe, socially responsible, and based on generations of tradition. This fishing method not only allows tuna species to flourish by not overfishing delicate stocks, but it also minimises plastic pollution, reduces bycatch from other marine life, and benefits the communities on land.
2. Find Out Where Your Tuna Comes From
Are you on team industrial, or team local?
When it comes to sourcing, transparency is key to knowing where your tuna comes from. Big industrial fisheries catch their fish from large vessels using methods and gear such as Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), gill nets, longline, and purse seine nets. These practices are not selective in what they catch, meaning that they overfish tuna stocks and often also capture endangered species like dolphins, sharks and turtles – known as “bycatch”. The large heavy nets can also break, are lost, or left behind and contribute to ocean plastic pollution.
Instead, choose to buy tuna caught by small-scale fisheries and support local coastal communities directly; it saves ocean life and brings economic stability and food security directly to these small communities. By choosing Team Local, you can rest easy, knowing that you are contributing to the well being of the communities sourcing your fish, and in turn are supporting the catch of higher quality fish.
3. Choose Premium Quality
Small-scale fishers catch fish one at a time and handle their catch with care; the fish is processed quickly and promptly chilled, resulting in a premium quality product. Please remember that price is not an indication for sustainability, so use our checklist and resources, to make an informed decision. If you have the means, look for the tuna that’s caught from these small-scale fisheries, because you know you’ll be getting the best quality, as well as supporting small communities that rely on the fishing industry.
4. Read The Label! Is It Caught One At A Time?
Any label that is marked as one-by-one or pole-and-line signals that you are buying premium quality tuna and supporting the preservation of marine life. Don’t be fooled by stickers, stamps, and claims; instead, you want to look for the gear and ask yourself: is it caught one-by-one? The most sustainable tuna is caught using a one-by-one fishing method, such as pole-and-line, handline, and troll line fishing techniques. These are traditional ways of fishing, which have been used by coastal communities for hundreds of years and are by far the most sustainable. The tuna are caught one-by-one, so the fish stocks are not depleted, and there is little-to-no bycatch of non-target species because fishers can see what’s on their lines. Buying tuna that comes from one-by-one fisheries supports these communities whose local economies depend on the fishing industry.
5. No Label? Just Ask If Your Tuna Is Sustainably Caught
Really, it is that simple – if you are ordering a dish with tuna from a restaurant or shop that doesn’t have a label, just ask! Environmental sustainability in tuna fisheries is only possible if small-scale local fisheries are supported by retailers and markets. So ask your favourite restaurant – is their tuna caught one-by-one? Even if their answer is not yet a resounding yes, the action of asking starts a market demand, and over time, restaurants and brands will follow. As an organisation, IPNLF supports new and existing fisheries so that more people can enjoy environmentally responsible one-by-one tuna products. So next time you are purchasing tuna, just ask: “How was this tuna actually caught, and was it caught as sustainably as possible?”
6. Join Us In Taking Responsibility In 2021
We have all looked forward to 2021 as a fresh start. Now is the time to add a new resolution to the list you started in January – taking responsibility for how you choose your tuna. In the next few months, you can continue to take steps to inform yourself about one-by-one tuna, come to know more about different suppliers, and learn more about the different methods to catch tuna, so you can feel good by enjoying the sustainable choice. You have the power to make a difference by supporting small-scale fisheries that adhere to sustainable one-by-one fishing practices. When we choose sustainability, and when we demand respect for our oceans and for our tuna, we create change. Create it with us.