Did you know that 90 percent of the 7.1 billion pounds of seafood that Americans consume every year is imported? I didn’t, and it’s a disturbing statistic on so many levels—environmental, economic, and personal.
Let’s turn our attention to one huge segment of that market, canned tuna. First, a primer on methods of harvesting: long-line, purse seine, and pole-and-line. Long-line is exactly that—long lines (up to 60 miles long!) with multiple branches, hooks, and bait. These can attract and snag vast numbers of non-targeted marine life, including sea turtles, seabirds, sharks, and marine mammals. Obviously a bad idea.
Even more undesirable is the purse seine method. It involves a large wall of netting deployed around an entire area or school of fish that is then drawn in from the bottom. It is a destructive, nonselective fishing method that captures everything that it surrounds, including protected species. Definitely the worst.
Then there’s pole-and-line fishing, the good guy coming to the rescue. In this method, fishermen use barbless hooks and poles to catch tuna one at a time near the sea’s surface. One guy, one pole, one fish at a time, with no bycatch or harm to other species, and far less impact on the targeted stocks.
Joel Cardoza of American Tuna puts that in perspective: “Purse seining often results in harvests of 200 tons in one day, while American pole-and-line vessels will catch 200–300 tons in four months of fishing—an entire season.”
The Only American Pole-andLine Tuna
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