Albacore tuna is the only tuna that can be canned under the "white meat" label. Its range is worldwide in temperate waters between 12ºC to 19ºC. The U.S. and Canadian troll fleet generally catch those in the colder waters that have higher Omega-3 oil content than the albacore caught by longline fleets in the more tropical waters.
Because albacore is so far-ranging, worldwide production is around 250,000 metric tons per year. This species is an important food source that's high in protein and is consumed in many ways besides traditional canning methods. The U.S. troll fleet catches about 14,000 metric tons per year for comparison.
For albacore canned by U.S. canneries such as Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea, and Star Kist, troll-caught usually can be distinguished on the label as having more than 4g of fat per serving, while longline-caught albacore is labeled at 1g of fat. (NOTE: It is ironic that people purchase the lower-fat tuna and then take it home and add numerous grams of fat with the addition of mayonnaise.)
How to tell the difference between longline albacore and surface troll-caught albacore:
The two images below are labels from the same brand of tuna -- but the first one is longline-caught and the other is troll-caught albacore. Note the Total Fat (Grams), 1.0g as opposed to 5.0g.
Though slightly higher in fat, the troll-caught albacore is much higher in Omega-3's.
GENERAL SEAFOOD AND HEALTH LINKS
The following publications and sites are good sources of reference for food security and supply worldwide:
MERCURY IN ALBACORE:
Many news stories in the media have addressed the issues of mercury content in seafood. Though some of the articles were accurate, many more told only "part of the story" or were just plain inaccurate. Early in 2008 a number of news items focused on tuna - including a series in the New York Times focusing on bluefin tuna sold as sushi in markets and restaurants on the East Coast. Most of these stories made no distinction between the different levels of mercury found in various sizes and types of tuna. Independent research tests have demonstrated that the smaller albacore caught by U.S. trollers based on the West Coast have lower mercury levels than the larger longline-caught albacore, along with higher levels of important Omega-3 oils. The WFOA has a informational paper addressing these issues in detail.
More articles and information on mercury:
SELENIUM AS A MITIGATING FACTOR:
The reason that high doses of methylmercury can cause harm in the body appears to be because mercury interferes with normal metabolic activities of selenium, an essential dietary nutrient. Supplementation with additional selenium has long been known to protect the body from adverse effects of mercury exposure. It now appears that this occurs because the additional selenium replaces the selenium that becomes unusable because of mercury binding. In addition, the considerable selenium content in albacore is beneficial; selenium binds to mercury, decreasing or eliminating its negative effects on the system.
DOWNLOADABLE INFORMATION SHEETS ON ALBACORE:
DOWNLOADABLE FILES BY DR. JOYCE NETTLETON ON ALBACORE: