Safe tuna
March 19, 2010 7:55 PM   Subscribe

I like eating tuna fish. Tuna is kinda endangered. Is there a non overfished tuna I can still eat? How can I tell which is which?
posted by Omon Ra to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Apparently canned albacore is a good choice according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
posted by foodgeek at 7:59 PM on March 19, 2010

Take a look at the Environmental Defense Fund's Seafood Selector.
posted by lunalaguna at 8:01 PM on March 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Monterey Bay Aquarium has pocket guides to download, for on the go fish picking, too.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:06 PM on March 19, 2010

but be careful when selecting farmed varieties. some of the farming practices are environmentally disastrous. (also EDF link).

I can vouch for the farmed clams of coastal Florida.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:08 PM on March 19, 2010

What characteristics about tuna do you like? Are you eating tinned/canned tuna? Or the fresh stuff? Toro (highest grade tuna-belly)? For stuff that's similar to fresh tuna... Swordfish is better than tuna, sea bass (except "Chilean" sea bass) is good stuff. Neither are less "endangered." Rock/Ling cod, I think, is a better fish than "tuna." Endangered status, I'll let you discover on your own.

Cape Capensis, maybe "In contrast, the largest hake fishery in the world remains in relatively good shape. The 2002-03 quota for hake catches off Namibia and South Africa has been reduced only slightly, to about 350,000 metric tons."

It's about the same price as Basa, but firmer and less bad-"fishy" tasting. I made a corn-starch/cajun-spice crusted filet a couple of days ago and it was pretty good, but not as great as fresh tuna steak/filet.

Snapper is great if you can get it at a price you're comfortable with, which is sometimes available.

Tilapia is extensively aquacultured, so somewhat sustainable, and economical. The flesh isn't very flakey but it still has a very good texture - I actually prefer it to flakey flakey whitefish. They're "bottom feeders" but the taste is much cleaner than catfish. Best steamed with fish sauce/light soy sauce and finished with boiling oil that has ginger and green onions in it when it achieves boiling status.

Unfortunately, a lot of fish farms for tilapia, especially in the USA, are resorting to feeding the fish corn - which has little omega-3 fatty acidds... leading to fish that lack omega-3 fatty acids.
posted by porpoise at 10:19 PM on March 19, 2010

This is not what you asked, but what you said is the very reason I switched to Alaskan salmon. They manage the wild population and don't allow fishing to begin until next year's population is secured, i.e. a certain number make it home to spawn.

So I switched to canned salmon, and it doesn't taste the same, but you can treat it like tuna for simple things like salad and sandwiches. So maybe you can sidestep the whole issue of endangered tuna.
posted by Katravax at 10:36 PM on March 19, 2010

Kudos to you for being responsible!

Whether you eat sushi or not, because so many varieties of fish are used to make sushi and sashimi, I totally recommend visiting Sustainable Sushi to learn what fish are being overfished, what their statuses are, and what are sensible, tasty replacements in your diet.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:57 PM on March 19, 2010

Response by poster: Wow, great responses. Thanks for all the alternatives. I've been struggling a lot lately on the question of ethical eating, and this in particular has been bugging me for a while.

@porpoise I like to eat as fresh as I can, although I do buy a lot of frozen fish. I used to buy tuna filet but stopped because I was unsure whether I was contributing to the diminishment of the species.
posted by Omon Ra at 11:49 PM on March 19, 2010

Just so you know: not all tuna is endangered. Skipjack, which makes up 60% of world tuna catches and is the variety used in most U.S. canned tuna, is considered to be sustainable.
posted by armage at 12:43 AM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

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