When you think of canned tuna, a few familiar faces probably come to mind: a certain bumble bee, a mermaid, and a tuna fish named Charlie. Unfortunately though, the brands these cute characters represent — Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea, and StarKist — are some of the least environmentally friendly canned tuna brands in the U.S. And these brands alone account for a whopping 80% of the tuna sold here.
In its first-ever US canned tuna ranking, independent campaigning organization Greenpeace found that most of the tuna sold in the American market fails to meet the most basic sustainability standards.
The ranking, included in Greenpeace's 2015 Canned Tuna Shopping Guide, evaluated 14 well-known national and private label supermarket brands in the U.S. and found that eight of them do not have adequate measures in place to properly address sustainability and the human welfare and labor issues rampant in the industry.
"Consumers should know that popular and trusted canned tuna brands are contributing to ocean destruction at an alarming rate," said Greenpeace Seafood Markets Lead Graham Forbes in a press release. "While the biggest brands have thus far refused to offer sustainable tuna, the silver lining here is that other companies are stepping up to provide ocean safe options for their customers."
The popularity of the fish and its value in the marketplace has led to practices such as illegal fishing, overfishing, and methods like long-line fishing that capture and harm other species, like seabirds, sea turtles, sharks, and other marine life, called bycatch.
"Unfortunately, dolphin safe does not mean ocean safe," said Forbes. "Turtles, sharks and other vulnerable ocean life are collateral damage in tuna fisheries that supply the U.S market. The big players have a responsibility to join forward-thinking brands in building a more responsible tuna industry. As the market continues to shift, selling products that are bad for our oceans will be bad for business."
So if you're looking for products that don't come from destructive sources, Greenpeace suggests buying Wild Planet, American Tuna, and Ocean Naturals. The products from these companies come from fisheries using methods with minimal impact on other marine life, like local, pole-and-line fishing.
Here's the complete list, from best to worst:
- Wild Planet
- American Tuna
- Ocean Naturals
- Whole Foods
- Trader Joe's
- Chicken of the Sea
- Bumble Bee
Greenpeace suggests buying from the companies that strive to protect the ocean instead of selfishly sucking it dry — until there's no more tuna left at all.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock