Tuna

Tuna

Albacore tuna, © Amadeo Bachar

At a glance

Eco-rating Mercury Omega-3s
+-Yellowfin (U.S. Atlantic troll/pole)
Best
Unknown

MORE ABOUT YELLOWFIN TUNA

Yellowfin tuna is a popular, widespread commercial fish. Among the fastest fish in the sea, tunas migrate widely in mixed schools; larger fish may school with porpoises. In its short life (8 years), yellowfin grows to nearly 9 feet (2.7 meters) and up to 200 kg.

Also called ahi, this highly migratory fish is found throughout the world's oceans, where it is caught with a variety of fishing gear. Look for fish caught by trolling or pole-and-line gear (especially from the U.S. Atlantic), as they result in almost no bycatch. Most yellowfin is caught with longlines, which often also catch threatened sea turtles, seabirds and sharks.

+-Albacore (U.S., Canada)
Best
Moderate
High

MORE ABOUT ALBACORE TUNA (U.S., CANADA)

Albacore, used for canned white tuna, is a popular, widespread commercial fish. Among the fastest fish in the sea, tunas migrate thousands of miles in mixed schools. Albacore grows to a record 5 feet, or 1.5 meters.

Commercial Sources

Albacore tuna are found in the tropical and temperate waters of all oceans, including the Mediterranean Sea.

The main sources of albacore tuna are Japan and Taiwan, followed by Spain and the United States. Albacore tuna sold in the U.S. market are primarily from Taiwan. Canned tuna, however, comes mainly from Thailand, Indonesia and Ecuador.

Capture Methods

Albacore tuna come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. In general, juvenile albacore are caught with troll lines, pole-and-line, purse seines and drift gillnets in surface waters.

Adult albacore are primarily caught with longlines in deeper waters.

+-White/albacore tuna (canned)
OK
Elevated

More about canned White albacore

Canned white tuna consists of albacore. Some populations of this highly migratory tuna are healthier than others.

Albacore fisheries in the U.S. and British Columbia are well managed, using pole-and-line gear that results in almost no bycatch.

Most other fisheries for albacore, including those for canned white tuna, use longlines, which often catch sea turtles, seabirds and sharks.

+-Bigeye/yellowfin (imported troll/pole)
OK
Unknown

More about imported Tuna

Look for fish that have been caught by trolling or pole-and-line gear (especially from the U.S. Atlantic), as they result in almost no bycatch.

Most yellowfin and bigeye are caught with longlines, which often also catch threatened sea turtles, seabirds and sharks.

+-Blackfin (Atlantic troll/pole)
OK
Elevated

DETAILS ABOUT BLACKFIN TUNA

Tuna species are usually very highly migratory species, but Blackfin tuna is different than most other tuna in that it is limited to the western Atlantic ocean, found approximately from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Massachusetts.

Blackfin tuna grows quickly and reproduces early, which are traits that make it more resilient to fishing pressures.

Blackfin tuna is commonly caught in fisheries that also target other tuna species, such as Skipjack tuna.

+-Light tuna (Skipjack, canned)
OK
Moderate

MORE ABOUT CANNED LIGHT TUNA (SKIPJACK)

Skipjacks are the smallest of the commercially important tuna species. They form large schools in surface waters, often near seabirds, floating objects, sharks or whales.

Commercial Sources

Hawaii and California account for the small amount of fresh and frozen skipjack sold in the U.S. Thailand, the Philippines and Ecuador provide the U.S. with most of its canned tuna.

Capture Methods

Skipjack are captured by purse seine and pole-and-line fleets.

+-Albacore (imported, longline)
Worst
Elevated

MORE ABOUT ALBACORE TUNA

Albacore is a popular, widespread commercial fish. Among the fastest fish in the sea, tunas migrate thousands of miles in mixed schools. Albacore grows to a record 5 feet, or 1.5 meters.

Commercial Sources

Albacore tuna are found in the tropical and temperate waters of all oceans, including the Mediterranean Sea.

The main sources of albacore tuna are Japan and Taiwan, followed by Spain and the United States. Albacore tuna sold in the U.S. market are primarily from Taiwan. Canned tuna, however, comes mainly from Thailand, Indonesia and Ecuador.

Capture Methods

Albacore tuna come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. In general, juvenile albacore are caught with troll lines, pole-and-line, purse seines and drift gillnets in surface waters.

Adult albacore are primarily caught with longlines in deeper waters.

+-Blackfin (Atlantic longline/purse seine)
Worst
Elevated

DETAILS ABOUT BLACKFIN TUNA

Tuna species are usually very highly migratory species, but Blackfin tuna is different than most other tuna in that it is limited to the western Atlantic ocean, found approximately from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Massachusetts.

Blackfin tuna grows quickly and reproduces early, which are traits that make it more resilient to fishing pressures.

Blackfin tuna is commonly caught in fisheries that also target other tuna species, such as Skipjack tuna.

+-Bluefin
Worst
Elevated

MORE ABOUT BLUEFIN TUNA

One of the fastest fish in the sea, the bluefin migrates widely. It is known to reach over 12 feet (3.8 meters) and up to 680 kg.

Commercial Sources

Bluefin tuna are found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In the eastern Atlantic, they occur from Norway to the Canary Islands, including the Mediterranean and Black Seas. In the western Atlantic, they range from Labrador and Newfoundland to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

In addition, there is a southern population off Venezuela and Brazil. In the Pacific, they range from the Gulf of Alaska to Baja California, Mexico, and from the southern Sea of Okhotsk to the northern Philippines. They have also been reported off South Africa.

Capture Methods

Bluefin tuna come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with purse seines, longlines, troll lines and trap nets. Additional types of fishing gear include harpoons, handlines, pole-and-line and nets.

+-Yellowfin
Unrated
Moderate

MORE ABOUT YELLOWFIN TUNA

Yellowfin tuna, also known as ahi, is usually sold as fresh or frozen steaks. But it may also be canned, as light tuna often labeled 'gourmet' or 'tonno.'

Yellowfin tuna is a popular, widespread commercial fish. Among the fastest fish in the sea, tunas migrate widely in mixed schools; larger fish may school with porpoises. In its short life (8 years), yellowfin grows to nearly 9 feet (2.7 meters) and up to 200 kg.

Commercial Sources

Yellowfin tuna are found in the tropical and subtropical waters of all oceans; however they are absent from the Mediterranean Sea.

Capture Methods

Yellowfin tuna come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. Tuna found in surface waters are mainly caught with purse seines and poles-and-lines. Fish in deeper waters are primarily caught with longlines. Additional types of fishing gear include troll lines and gillnets.

+-Bigeye
Unrated
Elevated

MORE ABOUT BIGEYE TUNA

Bigeye tuna, also known as ahi, is usually sold as fresh or frozen steaks. This tuna is also a popular fish for sushi/sashimi. Among the fastest fish in the sea, tunas migrate widely. In its short life span (about 11 years), the bigeye grows to up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) and can weigh up to 210 kg.

Commercial Sources

Bigeye tuna are found in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. However, they are absent in the Mediterranean Sea.

The main sources of bigeye tuna are Japan and Taiwan, followed by Spain and Korea. Bigeye tuna sold in the U.S. market are primarily from the United States, supplemented with imports from Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Brazil.

Capture Methods

Bigeye tuna come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with longlines. Additional types of fishing gear include troll lines, poles-and-lines, purse seines and gillnets.

Recommended servings per month

Contaminant Men Women Kids 6-12 Kids 0-5
Light tuna (Skipjack, canned) Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 3
Yellowfin Mercury 4+ 4+ 3 2
Albacore (U.S., Canada) Mercury 4+ 4+ 3 2
Yellowfin (U.S. Atlantic troll/pole) Unknown 4 4 4 4
Albacore (imported, longline) Mercury 4 4 4 4
Bigeye/yellowfin (imported troll/pole) Unknown 4 4 4 4
White/albacore tuna (canned) Mercury 3 3 2 1
Bigeye Mercury 1 2 1 < 1
Blackfin (Atlantic longline/purse seine) Mercury 1 1 < 1 < 1
Blackfin (Atlantic troll/pole) Mercury 1 1 < 1 < 1
Bluefin Mercury, *PCBs 1 1 < 1 < 1

* This fish has been shown to have elevated PCB levels in some places. Please visit the EPA’s National Listing of Fish Advisories to check for any consumption alerts in your area.

Eco details: 
  • Albacore, bigeye, yellowfin and skipjack are resilient to fishing pressure because they grow quickly and reproduce often.
  • Bluefin tuna, on the other hand, grow slower and take longer to reproduce. This, coupled with their exorbitant value in the sushi market, has led to severely depleted populations.
  • Bigeye and yellowfin, also known as ahi, are common in sushi. Both types, along with bluefin, are high in mercury and should be eaten infrequently, if at all.
  • Most tuna are caught by purse seines or longlines, which have moderate-to-high bycatch of seabirds, sea turtles and marine mammals.
  • Pole-and-line caught tuna is less common but is a better environmental choice.