Tuna may stand a chance

Though slung at sushi counters like so much pizza dough or slapped between white bread with mayo for about 60 cents, the world’s stock of tuna has been in decline. A sliver of hope may be found in the world’s first sustainable tuna fishery, announced Sept. 6. The San Diego-based American Albacore Fishing Association was certified by the Marine Stewardship Council after having met its standards that avoid overfishing and bycatch (the unintended snagging of other fish, birds and marine mammals). The small, family-run fishery has 21 boats that bring in 3,000 to 4,000 tons of albacore each year. It harvests about 30 percent of its albacore by using the troll or pole-and-line method, which avoids bycatch. According to the World Wildlife Fund, which sponsored the fishery assessment, long-line and purse-seine fishing is used for roughly three-quarters of global tuna catches. The Marine Stewardship Council-certified tuna is set to be available in stores in late 2007.

The WWF reports that all 23 commercially harvested tuna stocks are heavily fished, nine are classified as fully fished, and four more are classified as overexploited or depleted. Three are considered critically endangered, three as endangered and three as vulnerable to extinction.