Fish to eat: Tuna

What is tuna?

Tuna is and one of the most eaten fish in the world. It belongs to a subgroup of the mackerel family and consists of 8 species that vary in colour and size. Tuna is a nomadic species and is found throughout the world's oceans. It can be eaten fresh or canned. Tuna loin is commonly eaten raw or seared and lightly seasoned, while canned tuna is precooked for a long time and often served heavily dressed.

Choose the right tuna for your dish

The most-sold type of tuna around the world is skipjack, as it is the most abundant tuna in the ocean, making up 60% of the global tuna catch. If you’re in Europe or Asia, skipjack is the tuna species most likely found in tins. 50% of skipjack tuna stocks are found in the Western Central South Pacific Ocean.

As well as skipjack there are four other main species of tuna include albacore, bigeye, bluefin and yellowfin. As with varieties of veg or breeds of cattle, different tuna have different qualities, so choose the right tuna fish for your dish.

The five main species of tuna


Is tuna sustainable?

Tuna carrying the blue MSC label is certified sustainable. MSC labelled tuna comes from a fishery that has been independently assessed to the MSC Fisheries Standard. Every supply chain business handling MSC seafood must meet the MSC Chain of Custody Standard, which ensures that fish and seafood sold with the blue label has come from fishing certified as sustainable against the MSC Fisheries Standard.

Tuna is most commonly canned but loins can also be purchased fresh or frozen. Canned, fresh and frozen MSC labelled tuna products can be found throughout the world.

50% of the world’s tuna is engaged in the MSC’s sustainable fishing program

Of the 5.8 million tons of tuna caught, 28.9% is from a fishery that is already MSC certified and a fifth (20.4%) is currently being tested to the MSC Standard. Another fifth of the global tuna catch is from fisheries working on improvements required to seek certification (19.54% in a fisheries improvement project). The science-based MSC certification scheme checks tuna stocks are healthy and are being managed well, and that the fishery has minimised its impact on the ecosystem. That includes measures to minimise interactions with other marine species, such as dolphins, turtles and seabirds. To be sure the tuna in your sandwich is from a fishery that has passed these wide-ranging tests, look out for the little blue label on pack, in store or on the menu.


View brands who’ve committed to sell MSC certified seafood

Bonus facts

  • Tuna is an extremely large fish. The biggest tuna catch to date was in Aulds Cove off Nova Scotia by Ken Fraser in 1979. It was an Atlantic bluefin, at the record weight and length of 679kg (1,497lb) and 3.7m (12ft). That’s almost as heavy as a truck!

  • All the tuna we eat is caught wild from the ocean. Tuna are carnivores at the top of the food chain, so it is vital to look after the whole ocean ecosystem. For a tuna to gain 1 kilo requires roughly 10 kgs of mid-size fish, 100 kilos of small fish, 1000 kilos of small plant eaters (herbivores such as zooplankton) and 10000 kilograms of phytoplankton.

  • Tuna is a global commodity, accounting for more than 8% global seafood trade. By 2027, the canned tuna market could be valued at as much as $US 11.89 bn.

  • Tropical skipjack can reproduce from about 2 years old and an adult female can spawn as many as 2million eggs daily, and any time of year. Once fertilised, the tiny eggs hatch within a day, floating on the ocean currents as zooplankton. Tuna in cooler waters have a longer lifecycle, for example, albacore tuna in the Indian Ocean, are usually 5-6 years old before reproducing, spawning every 2.2 days from November to January with females releasing as many as 2.6million eggs. 


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Everything about tuna

Everything about tuna

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More about tuna
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