Digital News Report – Seattle, WA – Today the Western Fishboat Owners Association’s (WFOA) troll/jig and pole/line caught albacore tuna fishery was awarded MSC certification for well-managed and sustainable fisheries and may now use the MSC’s coveted seal of approval. Only the second U.S. tuna fishery to be certified by the MSC, the WFOA hopes the international recognition will increase local demand for its premium tuna. The certificate allows WFOA fishing boats and processors in the MSC Chain of Custody to display the ecolabel on their fresh and canned troll-caught albacore. The MSC ecolabel indicates that seafood was caught from a sustainable fish population using environmentally sound methods.
“We have a sustainable product, a well-managed fishery, and we’re in a good position to supply the domestic market,” says WFOA Director, Wayne Heikkila.
“We hope this announcement will encourage local consumers, chefs and retailers to try our troll-caught tuna, which is coveted in Japan and Europe for its flavor and high omega-3 oil content, instead of buying imported tuna,” he added.
Each season U.S. albacore tuna trollers catch an average of 25 – 30 million pounds of albacore off Washington, Oregon and California. Historically only 2-4 million pounds of the albacore caught by these small, family-owned boats has been distributed to U.S. consumers. The balance is sold to Asia and Europe.
The non-profit group is optimistic that growing interest in sustainable, local seafood will result in vessels being able to charge fair market price for their fish, and help to revive their industry which is under threat from ever-increasing regulation, and an aging fleet of fishermen. Consisting of mostly second and third generation fishermen, the WFOA fleet has an average age of about 62 as younger generations are attracted to more profitable industries.
“The price of albacore has stayed around $1.00 per pound since 1980 while our operating costs have risen 10-fold,” says Heikkila. “If this trend continues the industry will simply die out and consumers will only have access to imported tuna. We’re working hard to get people to recognize troll-caught albacore for what it is – a hand-caught, seasonal, local, premium tuna.”
U.S. troll/jig and pole/line-caught albacore is available in supermarkets and specialty stores labeled as “US-caught” or “troll-caught”. It is caught between July and October, when it can be purchased directly from troll-boats, and is available year-round frozen and canned.
Wayne Heikkila and WFOA members are available for comment
High resolution images available
About Troll-Caught Albacore
WFOA Wild Pacific Albacore is a premium tuna, sustainably troll-caught by members of the Western Fishboat Owner’s Association in the Pacific Northwest. It is a superior tuna with a mild, rich flavor and firm flesh and is available fresh, frozen or canned.
WFOA vessels harvest albacore by trolling small, barbless hooks or “jigs” behind a slow-moving boat. They have used this low-impact, environmentally responsible fishing technique to catch albacore for nearly a century. There is near-zero by-catch with this method of fishing and the WFOA U.S. troll/jig and pole/line-caught albacore fishery is certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). For more information, cooking tips and recipes visit www.pacificalbacore.com
About the Western Fishboat Owners Association (WFOA)
The WFOA is a not-for-profit association representing about 400 family-owned albacore fishing vessels and supporting coastal businesses. The WFOA is active in fisheries management issues at state, federal and international levels. Chief among the organization’s concerns is maintaining a sustainable fishery for future generations. Members generally fish off the coast of California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, New Zealand and British Columbia. The U.S. troll albacore fishery has been operating off the west coast for almost a century.