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The term “tuna” refers to a dozen species of migratory fish from the family Scombridae. They are very fast swimmers – with records of up to 80 km/h – and voracious predators that daily eat up to 30% of their weight in small fish and crustaceans.
Intensive fishing of tuna has taken place for a very long time. As its oily flesh deteriorates rapidly, many preservation techniques have been developed over the centuries. With the creation of factory vessels where tuna can be frozen or cut up and preserved immediately after catching, the tuna industry is now in the hands of the food giants.
Each year, Greenpeace publishes a canned tuna ranking of leading brands based on the efforts made by these manufacturers to source in a sustainable manner. Go ahead and check it out to see if your brand of choice fulfills these criteria for sustainability.
Regarding fresh fish, bluefin, yellowfin and bigeye tuna are already endangered species or shortly threaten to become endangered, so you should avoid eating them. It is however safe to eat skipjack tuna caught by line fishing or trolling.
Try one of our recipes that feature canned or fresh tuna:
Originally published in the Journal de Montréal on June 23, 2012.