Bigeye tuna meat has a reddish-pink color. It typically has a higher fat content than yellowfin and is preferred by sashimi lovers. The prices paid for both frozen and fresh product on the Japanese sashimi market are the highest of all the tropical tunas. Tropical tunas such as bigeye caught in the purse seine fishery are often canned as “light” tuna. Bigeye from other fisheries is sold fresh and frozen.
Bigeye Tuna are a large fish, growing to over 200 kg (440 lbs), and are found throughout the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. They grow reasonably fast, can release millions of eggs each year, and can live to 10 years. Worldwide, Bigeye Tuna have a medium abundance; however, some populations are healthier than others. Bigeye Tuna are caught using a variety of fishing methods including purse seines and longlines, but pole and trolling methods are more selective and result in little bycatch. Bigeye Tuna are a popular item on the Japanese sashimi market, often sold as Maguro.
Bigeye is often sold fresh or frozen by its Hawaiian name ahi and is commonly used for sashimi. When served as sushi it is sold as maguro or toro (tuna belly) There is little or no bycatch when bigeye is caught with troll or pole-and-line gear. However, longlines, the most common method, results in large bycatch, including threatened or endangered species such as sea turtles, sharks and seabirds. Most of the world’s bigeye populations have been depleted due to longline fisheries and longline-caught bigeye is ranked as “Avoid.” One notable exception is longline-caught bigeye from the U.S. Atlantic, where strict bycatch regulations and more abundant populations result in a “Good Alternative” ranking. When possible, look for bigeye caught with troll or pole-and-line which has very low levels of bycatch. In particular, bigeye from the U.S. Atlantic is a “Best Choice.”