Can sustainably-caught tuna fuel an Arctic expedition?

Can sustainably-caught tuna fuel an Arctic expedition?

Safe Catch mailed me a couple of boxes of tuna and salmon packets to test. West Hansen photo

I care about fish and sustainability. I’m an avid scuba diver, and something about seeing fish in the wild makes the need to protect our wild fish populations personal for me.
I’m normally not a huge fan of the taste of canned tuna or salmon, but when Safe Catch, a company that uses environmentally sensible practices to catch the fish it packages and sells, contacted me to see if I’d test out their product, I wanted some local paddlers who are training for an expedition I’m involved with to try it.
West Hansen, leader of the Arctic Cowboys, accepted a box of the 2.6-ounce packets – an assortment of citrus pepper wild tuna, garlic herb wild tuna, chili lime wild tuna, Cajun wild tuna, elite wild tuna and citrus dill wild Pacific pink salmon. He ate a lot of tuna on his 2012 expedition down the Amazon River, and I wondered if the food might work for his upcoming 60-day kayaking expedition through the Northwest Passage. That adventure will take the team (and me) through orca- and polar bear-populated areas.

The Arctic Cowboys will need calorie dense, high protein food for their kayaking expedition through the Northwest Passage. West Hansen photo

The fish comes sealed in single-serving pouches, each with 21 to 24 grams of protein. They’re good for up to two years on pantry shelves.
“All equally great,” Hansen said after trying it out. He’s sometimes (but not always) a minimalist when it comes to words, and trying to drag out a little more description turned into an exercise of futility this time.
“They’re good. Convenient. A good source of protein. For our needs, though, the weight-to-calorie ratio may not be what we need. We need something more calorie dense.”
Also, he said it’s “too much to open and use a fork” while paddling. (I think ditching the utensil and tearing and squeezing the pouch into your mouth might work, but maybe my thumbs are more flexible then Hansen’s.)
Hansen went on to explain that taste doesn’t matter much to him, although he will argue until the end of time that a burger grilled over charcoal is far superior to one cooked on a gas grill.
“I’ve got low standards when it comes to taste,” he said. “I don’t care that much. Put (the Safe Catch) side by side with Chicken of the Sea and I’d choose it. I do like the fact that they put effort into making sure it’s more ethically sourced. I would like all fish companies to do what they do.”
I checked the Safe Catch website, which notes that the company supports the creation of new marine protected areas and donates to ocean conservation groups. The tuna and salmon packets sell for $35.99 for a 12-pack of 2.6-ounce pouches at
Also, I learned that Safe Catch tests all its fish for mercury content, and its purity standards are higher than other companies. It sources its fish from fisheries that use sustainable fishing methods, doesn’t buy fish from boats that use fish aggregating devices, and only buys fish that comes with a certificate stating the catch was monitored by an independent observer.
Just one thing I’m wondering before the Arctic Express crew decides if it will bring some Safe Catch along – does it chum up polar bears and orca?

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