Sustainable Canned Tuna

PRODUCT & PRICE Marks & Spencer canned tuna steak HK$30(2nd from top)

PRODUCT RATING Tuna steak is much tastier than flaked tuna. However, all tuna should be consumed in moderate quantities due to mercury, from coal fired power plants, that accumulates in the flesh of many larger fish.

GREEN RATING Quite Green for not using endangered species and destructive fishing methods in its canned tuna products. M&S only uses skipjack in its canned tuna products. Unlike many other tuna species, the skipjack tuna population is considered sustainable against its current consumption. According to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), skipjack tuna stock is neither overfished nor experiencing overfishing. M&S uses only pole and line catch method (no nets) which eliminates “bycatch”. Sharks, rays, marlins, turtles and other fish caught as bycatch are usually thrown back dead because they are the wrong species, the wrong size, of inferior quality or surplus to the fishing operation’s quotas. M&S is ranked #2 in Greenpeace UKs 2011 ranking of sustainable tuna products. John West is ranked #7, while other Hong Kong supermarket brands, such as Ayam, do not specify species or fishing method (labeling is the absolute minimum requirement to even be considered in sustainability rankings). Please remember to recycle your tins.

According to Australian Food News:

“The majority of canned tuna is caught using fish aggregation devices (or FADs) — floating and submerged objects that encourage tuna to gather around them. The fish are then scooped up in huge nets called purse seines.

Marine animals are killed or harmed in fishing operations without ever being brought on board. Species like turtles and dolphins get tangled in nets or hooked on longlines. Even those that escape are sometimes too injured or weak to survive the ordeal.

Experts believe entanglement in nets to be responsible for most deaths among cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and the greatest threat to the survival of many other species.

Bycatch removes marine life that would be better left in the sea as part of the intricate ocean ecosystem. Non-commercial fish species are also important food for commercially popular fish, endangered fish species and other marine wildlife such as seabirds.”

M&S canned tuna does cost more than unsustainable brands, but it is a superior product that I can eat with minimal guilt. I cut back on non-essentials to make sure that I can always purchase products that are sustainably produced even if they cost a little more.

3 thoughts on “Sustainable Canned Tuna

  1. Great post, and great blog! I am new to Hong Kong and am not yet familiar with the canned tuna brands, and which ones are the most sustainable. Thus, I was searching the web for info and ended up here. I realize that the image in this post is from the Greenpeace UK ranking of sustainable tuna, so not every brand must be available in Hong Kong. Is this why you focus on M&S in this post? And is that to say that M&S is the most sustainable brand available in HK?



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