When you think ‘tuna’, what comes to mind? Likely flakey fish in a can or mom’s tuna salad sandwiches. At Afishionado, we want you to know that tuna are wonderfully diverse. There are 15 different species of tuna. Tuna are truly extraordinary; some species can swim as fast as 75km/hr and migrate thousands of kilometres every year. I once showed a friend a photo of a 700 pound tuna caught off the coast of Nova Scotia and was surprised to hear “THAT’S A TUNA?!, I thought they were small!”. Nope, weights range from 73lbs in Skipjack Tuna 1472lbs in Bluefin. They’re big, bold and beautiful!
Unfortunately, tuna harvested for consumption are often caught unsustainably. One of the most common capture methods is by using a purse seine net, where two boats use a net to encircle an entire group of fish, catching everything in the area. Another method involves floating lines that trail with thousands of baited hooks, also known as longlining. Both of these methods catch massive amounts of fish at once, even fish other than the target species. The non-target species caught in a fishery are called “bycatch”. In the case of tuna fisheries, common bycatch includes other large fish species, like sharks, and sea turtles.
At Afishionado, we only sell tuna caught from healthy stocks by surface trolling, where there is no significant damage to other species or young tuna populations. Catching younger tuna can devastate populations in mass scale fisheries, by removing a generation before they are able to reproduce. We also sell tuna that has been caught as bycatch. Bycatch is an unfortunate reality in many fisheries. However, dealing with tuna caught as bycatch helps us to gain momentum in the industry, so that we can make a larger impact towards increasing the sustainability of fisheries.
If you’re looking for an oppor-tuna-ty for culinary delight, the most commonly consumed species are yellowfin, skipjack, albacore, bigeye and unfortunately, bluefin, which is endangered. Here’s some information to help you get to know each species in more detail:
1. Skipjack Tuna
- Live up to 4 years
- Grow up to 3.5′ long
- Weigh up to 73lbs
- Skipjack are a smaller tuna and is typically canned. So when you’re thinking ‘mom’s tuna sandwiches’, this is your guy!
2. Yellowfin Tuna
- Live up to 7 years
- Grow up to 6.7′ long
- Weigh up to 427lbs
- Saku Blocks
- Yellowfin is one of Afishionados most popular tuna products, sold as steaks (pictured above) and saku blocks.
- Our Yellowfin comes from ANOVA Seafood and an Indonesian fishery that is part of the Living & Fishing This project was established by ANOVA, in cooperation with NGOs and aims to improve fisheries management. The main objective is to increase the capacity of the fishing communities involved, preserving their traditional livelihood and to keep Yellowfin populations healthy. This yellowfin is caught using a handline. Handline fishing has almost no bycatch and low environmental impact.
3. Albacore Tuna
- Live up to 7 years
- Grow up to 4.3′ long
- Weigh up to 88lbs
- Albacore is another one of Afishionados most popular tuna products. Our Albacore loins come from Organic Ocean, a West Coast company established by independent fishermen looking to strike a balance between their traditional way of life and fisheries impacts.
- These tuna are caught off the coast of Haida Gwaii, from healthy, well-managed populations.
- Albacore has the highest level of Omega-3 fatty acids of all tunas and is considered to have a more delicate and melt-in-the-mouth flavour than other tunas.
4. Bigeye Tuna
- Live up to 10 years
- Grow up to 7.5′ long
- Weigh up to 462lbs
- Bigeye has similar qualities as Yellowfin and Albacore, but they can grow much larger! Bigeye tuna steaks were featured in a September 2017 Catch of the Week. However, Afishionado only deals with Bigeye tuna caught as bycatch at this time.
5. Bluefin Tuna
- Live up to 15 years
- Grow up to 9.8′ long
- Weigh up to 1472lbs
- Bluefin tuna are without a doubt, the king of all tunas. They swim the fastest and travel the furthest, and thus are appropriately nicknamed “The Ferraris of the Ocean”
- Unfortunately, these giants are endangered. Poor fisheries management has led to years of unsustainable quota, causing a significant depletion of stocks. The high value of this fish may contribute to inefficient fisheries management; some are sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars!
- We want you to recognize the beauty of the Bluefin, but please don’t eat them in your sushi!