Nutrition of Wild Tuna
Nutritionally, British Columbia Albacore Tuna is 100% wild food, high in protein, low in carbohydrates and very high in the “good” fatty acid, Omega-3. They are also packed full of selenium, a heavy-hitting mineral antioxidant that is lacking in most North American diets due to its depletion in the soil by modern agricultural techniques. Nutritional testing is done on a regular basis by the CHMSF (Canadian Highly Migratory Species Foundation). Our tuna has also been given a Health Check rating by the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation Health Check Program.
The albacore tuna that we catch off the West Coast are in the three to four year class, making them relatively young fish. As such, they have very small accumulations of mercury and other contaminants. Mercury analysis carried out regularly by the CHMSF has consistently shown average Mercury levels to be in the 0.1656 parts per million range, 66% below 0.5 ppm set as a regulated acceptable level by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and 83% below USFDA safety standards. These results, combined with those of our American counterpart agency, have resulted in the removal of cautions to pregnant women and children regarding consumption of Albacore tuna from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program.
The M.V. Estevan is a proud member vessel of the CHMSF’s Platinum Quality Control Program. We follow strict criteria for the harvesting and onboard storage of our fish. We use a combination of two barbless hooks inside a colourful hula type skirt forming a jig which resembles a squid, tuna’s favourite food. We tow ten of these jigs behind the boat at a speed of about six knots. Once a tuna bites the jig, we haul them astern using hydraulic tuna haulers and bring them aboard individually. The fish are then stunned and bled and placed in a chill tank on deck, which lowers their body temperature to 35°F. Tuna maintain a body temperature 10 to 15 degrees above the ocean temperature so it is important to cool them quickly so they have no time to build up histamines. After two to three hours, the tuna are lowered into the freezer hold and flash frozen to a temperature of -30°F. The Estevan holds about 25,000 pounds, and when the hold is full, we go to shore and unload to a cold storage facility which can keep the tuna at a controlled temperature of -28°F indefinitely. Using these careful criteria ensures the premium quality of our fish every step of the way.
Using surface jig hooks to catch Albacore tuna minimizes ocean environmental impact. With this method there is zero by-catch of dolphin, shark or other species and no impact on the ocean floor. The only species caught on barbless hooks is Albacore tuna.
This selective method of fishing has allowed British Columbia Albacore Tuna to accrue several approvals by very respected organizations:
- BC Albacore Tuna has been green-listed as a “Best Choice” seafood product on Canada’s Seafood Guide, www.seachoice.org
- It has been approved as a “green fishery” on the Audubon Society’s “Good Choice” Seafood Wallet Card.
- The David Suzuki Foundation has approved our fishery as being sustainable.
- In 2006, British Columbia Albacore Tuna was accepted by the Ocean Wise Program of the Vancouver Aquarium.
- The Monterey Bay Aquarium also approves troll-caught Albacore tuna as being environmentally friendly on their “Best Choice for a Healthy Ocean” list.
Our tuna loins (fillets) are sashimi grade, meaning you can slice and eat raw, making them the ultimate convenience meal for health-conscious busy people, or they can be cooked quickly in a variety of ways for virtually everybody!
Tuna can be seared, barbecued, baked, steamed and fried, as well as cured in citrus juice or rolled au naturel in a favourite sushi recipe. Before cooking, tuna should be thoroughly thawed. With a mild taste and a lovely colour that turns from rosy pink to ivory white when cooked, tuna is appealing to children and goes well with a variety of spices. Please refer to our tuna recipes section for some great ideas on how to prepare your tuna.