Sustainable Seas FAQ

 
 
 

How is Sustainable Seas tuna caught? 

Our fish are individually caught using hand lines and "pole and troll" methods. This insures that, unlike the long-line caught fish many companies use, other species of marine life such as dolphins and turtles aren't harmed. For more detail, please view our Sustainability page.

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Is Sustainable Seas tuna wild or farm-raised? 

Our tuna is all ocean wild caught.

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Is Sustainable Seas tuna packed in water or oil? 

Sustainable Seas tuna is packed in water, and offered in both Salted and No Salt Added varieties.

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Why is the Omega 3 content higher in Sustainable Seas Albacore tuna than competitive brands also packed in water? 

We use smaller fish than many competitive brands for our Sustainable Seas line of tuna. These smaller fish naturally contain higher levels of Omega 3.

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How is Sustainable Seas offering of smaller, younger tuna with less mercury consistent with a sustainability mission when these young fish have not had a chance to breed? 

There are two fishery segments targeting albacore tuna worldwide: 1) surface fisheries catching migratory juveniles and 2) deep water long-line fisheries capturing spawning stocks. It is counterintuitive to assume that the most sustainable method of catch is to shift effort to juveniles since they have never bred. However, if all fish should be allowed to breed before harvest then there would be no commercial salmon industry since all commercial salmon have also not bred. The salmon stocks are managed by assessment of percentage of capture versus escapement. If an adequate percentage escape capture to go on to reproduce, then the fishery is considered sustainable.

In the albacore world, the surface fisheries are artisanal methods of harvest that are fairly ineffective in capture compared to long-line fisheries. The West Coast troll and pole fishery captures less than 15% of the bio-mass resulting in 85% of the fish recruiting. This 85% escapement is sufficient to sustain the population of the species. Once a fish becomes a mature spawning adult it continues to increase in fecundity exponentially with age. A 10 year old female albacore produces many times more eggs than a 6 year old albacore. The same is true with rockfish or most other fish and is the key rationale for marine reserves designed to protect mega fauna (large spawning adults) in the reserves and allow catch of their offspring outside the reserves. There is scientific consensus that a harvest shift away from long-line caught mature albacore to migratory juveniles with proper escapement is the best model for sustainability; this explains why groups like Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch consider US troll/pole caught albacore as a "best choice" - http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/SeafoodWatch/web/sfw_search.aspx?s=albacore.

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Why is Sustainable Seas Tuna more expensive than the large national tuna companies such as Bumble Bee or Starkist? 

Sustainable Seas is more expensive because the sustainable catch method of pole and troll is less efficient at capturing a mass of albacore or skipjack than are the less sustainable catch methods of long-line and FAD Purse Seine. The West Coast troll and pole fishery catch is less than 15% of the bio-mass resulting in 85% of the fish escaping. This 85% escapement is sufficient to sustain the population of the species. Compare this to a purse seine net encircling a mass of fish, including bycatch, and hauling the whole lot onboard a ship. The result is that the fish cost of our low-impact selective catch method is greater than fish caught with less sustainable catch methods.

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Why is Sustainable Seas tuna packed in Vietnam? 

Unfortunately, there is no US tuna cannery capable of processing our volume requirements. In addition, the US cost of production would greatly increase the retail price beyond the reach of most families. Our goal is to make US-sourced sustainable seafood choices mainstream and thus have a greater impact on fishery harvest practices for the long-term good of ocean conservation.

We have elected to process our 4.1oz cans of solid albacore and solid light tuna in a highly respected partner facility in Vietnam. This facility offers state-of-the-art canning expertise in an immaculately clean, accredited environment that produces as high a quality product as any cannery in the US. This highly esteemed facility has also successfully passed numerous rigorous social audits.

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What is the carbon - load of producing these products overseas? 

We have studied this issue carefully, and are pleased to report that one of the lowest carbon-load forms of transportation on the planet is ocean freight. The carbon load of 26 tons of frozen tuna going from Seattle to Vietnam is miniscule and the finished cans returning are even less. Since there are no US canneries capable of processing these fisheries' fish, we are using the most efficient means to utilize them for domestic consumption. It is interesting that prior to our company expanding its sales of these fish, these very same pounds were being exported and not returned for domestic use.

The carbon load of these fish is much lower than the "local" Alaskan halibut and salmon flown to lower 48 states. It is also lower than seafood trucked from West to East Coast or East to West Coast. It is really not total miles traveled but the kind of miles that constitute carbon load. This is one of the reasons why studies have shown that ocean freighted New Zealand lamb has less carbon load when sold in London than Scottish lamb. Distance by ocean is a minor factor compared to energy inputs from feed production.

Please feel free to contact us any time for further clarification of these points.

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Is Sustainable Seas tuna gluten free? 

Our products do not contain and are not processed with any ingredients known to contain gluten. However, as our facilities are not certified as "gluten free" and because we do not batch test our products for the presence of gluten, we recommend you use this information in determining whether you should consume Sustainable Seas tuna products based upon your personal level of gluten sensitivity.

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