At Wild Planet, we believe the more people understand about how their tuna is caught, the better chance choices will be made that will help to ensure we have thriving ocean ecosystems in the years to come. Sustainable fishing methods, namely pole and line fishing, are critical to protecting our oceans and the variety of life they support. They also benefit fishing communities around the world by providing financial and nutritional sustenance.
The world loves tuna, especially canned tuna. It’s no wonder, after all it’s a protein-packed, low-calorie seafood that provides essential EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. Just how much the world loves tuna may be surprising:
- Americans eat about one billion pounds of canned and pouched tuna each year.
- The European Union and the U.S. consume over 80 percent of the world’s canned tuna.
Pole and Line Fishing – An Age-Old Practice with the Future in Mind
People often ask, “what is line and pole tuna?” The proper terminology, however, is “pole and line” and with this sustainable fishing method, skilled fishermen from small fishing communities all around the world engage in a practice that has been handed down from one generation to the next. They stand on a boat and utilize one pole and one line all with the intention of selectively catching tuna. When they locate a school of tuna, they will use bait to bring younger, migratory tuna to the surface of the water. They cast their line into the ocean and the fish are attracted to the feathered, barbless lure. When the tuna bites, the fishermen quickly pull the fish out of the water one-at-a-time, onto the back of the boat, where it easily releases itself from the hook.
This method targets only the intended tuna species. However, should an occasional unintended species or infant fish end up on the line, they are immediately tossed back into the water with a good chance of survival. Thus, the amount of bycatch (species unintentionally caught in the process of fishing a targeted catch) is minimized with the pole and line method. This is in stark contrast to the practices employed by large, industrial fishing organizations that utilize fish aggregating devices (FADs) that attract a wide variety of sea life to an area and then indiscriminately scoop them up in a purse seine net. Too often, bycatch turns into bycatch mortality discard where the non-targeted fish are left to die and then tossed overboard as waste.
The one-fish-at-a-time pole and line method is an age-old way of fishing. While it’s not the cheapest, fastest or easiest way to catch tuna, it’s without a doubt the most sustainable— using the least amount of gear, providing a livelihood for fishing communities around the world and importantly, preserving the most amount of sea life.
Is Pole and Line Caught Tuna Better?
Using the pole and line method benefits our ocean habitat, our fishing communities, and our planet in a number of ways.1. It avoids overfishing. The big fishing vessels are catching fish faster than nature can replenish them. The UN estimates that the global fishing fleet is 2.5 times greater than it needs to be to catch a sustainable number of fish. In fact, a single trip of giant fishing boats can yield as much tuna as some Pacific Island states catch in a full year.
Supporting Sustainable Fishing Helps Sustain our Ocean
When you support companies that use sustainable fishing methods and seek a brand who makes pole and line tuna, such as Wild Planet, you invest in the future health of our oceans. Each can of sustainably caught tuna you choose to purchase makes a positive impact on our oceans so they are available for future generations to enjoy. Ultimately, there is only one wild planet and we all must work together to protect it.