Big eye - hawaii's premium tuna

Hawaiian Big Eye Tuna is something you may not have heard of unless you have spent some time in Hawaii or renowned sushi restaurants.  Big Eye Tuna is similar in appearance to Yellowfin Tuna; however, Big Eye are distinguished by their plump bodies, larger head, and - you guess it - their big eyes!  They are caught in deeper, cooler waters than yellowfin and they have a higher fat content and a softer more desirable texture than other tuna available.

Why don't I see Big Eye in grocery stores?

Most tuna that you see in grocery stores is processed and shipped from Thailand or Fiji and treated with gasses and chemicals to enhance the color.  Only a select few groups buy directly from the Honolulu Fish Auction, and most of the catch ends up at the most highly regarded restaurants in the country and around the world.  Most restaurants won't serve Big Eye because of the high cost associated with the exclusive fish; however, you can count on seeing it being served up by master sushi chefs.

How much does a share include?

Our Hawaiian Big Eye Tuna is one of our Premium Selections and in order to be able to offer such an amazing fish our pricing will be a little bit different.  Full shares will be $32 and consist of 1 lbs of center cut (meaning you won't have to deal with the sinew - or tendons that are difficult to work around) tuna with the skin on and bloodline intact.  Do not take the skin and bloodline out until you are ready to prepare the dish as the skin and bloodline keep the texture of the meat intact.  Premium Selections are only offered in full shares - sorry no half shares!

We also have head, collar, belly, and tail sections along with sinew sections that are great for many different applications! We will be offering these at $19/lbs and weight will vary.

Fun Fact: 

Big Eye Tuna is the second most sought after tuna in Japan behind Bluefin Tuna - a much less sustainable option.  Big Eye are usually smaller than Bluefin, but bigger than Yellowfin.

Is it sustainable?  Why ship something here?

The Hawaiian Big Eye Tuna fishery has undergone a rigorous assessment from our partners at Seafood Watch, and they have come to the conclusion that the fishery has rebounded and that regulations on Hawaiian vessels are strict enough to avoid unwanted by catch, giving Big Eye Tuna caught in Hawaii using longlines a "Good Alternative" rating.  You can enjoy every bite of your FreshCatch knowing that we only source from fisheries assessed as a "Best Choice" or "Good Alternative."

We choose to ship such an amazing product because of the improvements in the shipping industry for seafood.  Shipments used to come on their own flights - typically on half full planes burning jet fuel just to transport a few high quality fish.  That is no longer the case.  Modifications have been made in passenger planes so that there is extra temperature controlled room for perishable product to make it to its final destination on the same day.  The next time you are flying from Hawaii or Alaska, imagine all the fish under your feet!

How to turn the loin into sushi?

Watch this great video on how to break down a tuna loin and use all the part of the fish!  Also check out our recipes on the right and don't miss our tuna skin dog treat recipe!

Check out our recipes!

Click here to view some of our favorite recipes for Big Eye Tuna. As always, please send us photos and family recipes for us to include on our website and in future deliveries!

© ISSF 2012

© ISSF 2012

The Details

Big Eye is widely agreed as Hawaii's most important longline tuna fishery.  The season lasts throughout the winter from October until early May.  Boats will travel as far as 800 nautical miles from port in search of these beautiful delicacies.  Boats travel far distances in search of Big Eye because they are found in deep cold waters.  Once the desired depth has been reached, the boats set out their longline from 150ft to 1000ft deep to try and catch the fish.  Smaller fish will usually be found in more shallow waters, while larger fish swim deep below.  Once caught, the fish are brought aboard and bled one by one to ensure the highest quality.  The boats then head back to their home port in Hawaii where their fish is loaded onto the Honolulu Auction Block.  

From there, our highly skilled buyers go in and search the auction floor for the "#1 Premium" fish - aka the best of the best.  Usually there are only a handful of #1 quality tuna out of the whole auction, so that is one of the reasons our supply is so limited.  Once chosen, our fish is transported a short distance to the airport and loaded on the next flight to SFO where we eagerly await its arrival.

Beautiful tuna loins at our warehouse - the dark portion is the bloodline that is removed just before preparing your recipe.  The bloodline and the skin help keep the meat intact and together.

Beautiful tuna loins at our warehouse - the dark portion is the bloodline that is removed just before preparing your recipe.  The bloodline and the skin help keep the meat intact and together.

Heads, Collars, Bellies, and Sinew?

We have them all!  Please get in touch with us if you are interested in these parts - some of them are the most flavorful and fatty sections of the fish that you won't want to be without!

How old are these fish?

Big Eye Tuna are relatively short lived (most FreshCatch offerings are!) meaning that they reach maturity after 2-4 years.  The oldest recorded Big Eye Tuna was 16 years old!

How is it caught?

Bigeye tuna is harvested in Hawaii mainly by longline boats which set hooks at the deep swimming depths of this species in order to catch them.

Adult bigeye tuna are the deepest occurring of all tuna species - even deeper than bluefin! Deep-set longline gear is set from 150 to 1000 ft. Smaller bigeye (20-30 pounds) may be encountered in shallower waters.

Health Benefits

Tuna is attributed with being one of the healthiest seafood options available - something easily understandable when looking at the impressive content of vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds found in these delicious fish!  Included are antioxidants and protein that is very low in saturated-fat or sodium, not to mention high levels of selenium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and potassium.  Big Eye is also packed with a wealth of vitamins like Vitamin b-12, Niacin, Vitamin B-6, and Riboflavin.  Who needs modern day medicine when we have tuna!?

Energy Levels

The B complex vitamins in tuna have been connected with a wide range of health aspects. They are mainly involved in boosting the metabolism, increasing the efficiency of organs, protecting the skin, and increasing energy levels. By consuming tuna fish regularly, you can ensure that you are active, energetic, and healthy.

Blood Circulation

Tuna is a rich source of iron, along with the B-complex vitamins that play an important role in red blood cell formation. Without iron, people become anemic and their blood is unable to oxygenate the vital organs that need fresh oxygen to function efficiently.

Cancer Prevention

Tuna fish has antioxidant properties, thanks to selenium and other nutrients, making it effective at preventing some types of cancer. Numerous studies have connected tuna to a reduction in the occurrence of breast and kidney cancer. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals before they can cause a mutation in healthy cells, thereby turning them into cancer cells. Other promising results have also shown a reduction in colon cancer, thanks to the high levels of omega-3 fatty acid in the fish.

Kidney Diseases

The potassium and sodium content in tuna is well-balanced, which helps manage the fluid balance in the body. When your body maintains a fluid balance, the kidneys function properly, thereby lowering the chances of developing serious kidney conditions.

Reduced Inflammation

Tuna fish can keep the body’s overall stress levels down by reducing inflammation, thanks to the anti-inflammatory vitamins and minerals. A reduction in inflammation across the body ensures an enhanced functioning of all organs. It also helps prevent inflammatory diseases like arthritis and gout, both of which afflict millions of people around the world.

Cell Membrane Damage

When tuna fish is cooked, the proteins in tuna begin to break down into fragments, called peptides. These fragments can actually be powerful antioxidants that specifically target cell membranes, keeping them healthy, strong, and functioning properly. Free radicals often attack membranes throughout the body, including those in the brain, so eating cooked tuna and improving the membrane protection is a very good idea!

Mercury and Selenium Balance

Consuming any fish, or for that matter, tuna, above a certain limit can bring the mercury level in our body at an unhealthy point. Studies have shown that there is a unique form of selenium, called selenoneine. This actually binds to mercury and acts as an antioxidant, slightly changing the composition of mercury to make it less dangerous. However, studies are still ongoing to completely validate this.


Heart Health

Perhaps the most common health benefit that is attributed to tuna fish is its significant impact on heart health. In terms of reducing coronary heart diseases, tuna fish has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce omega-6 fatty acids and LDL, or bad cholesterol in the arteries and blood vessels. Furthermore, it often replaces foods with high saturated fat content, further lowering the risk of heart diseases.

Blood Pressure

The anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce blood pressure.  Potassium, found in tuna, is a vasodilator and is very good for lowering blood pressure. Reducing hypertension can significantly boost your health by lowering the strain on your cardiovascular system. This will help prevent heart attacks and strokes, as well as conditions like atherosclerosis.

Eye Care

Tuna fish, being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, is a great option for preventing eye disorders like age-related macular degeneration. This disease is the major reason behind the occurrence of blindness in the elderly people. The blindness is also caused due to diabetic complications and tuna can help in reducing the chances of diabetic retinopathy.

Growth and Development

Tuna fish is packed with high levels of protein. A single serving of only 165 grams (approximately 1 can of tuna fish) contains more than 80% of your daily protein requirement. Proteins are the building blocks of our body that guarantee growth, faster recovery from wounds and illnesses, improved muscle tone, and overall metabolic efficiency.

Weight Loss

Tuna fish is low in calories and fat, yet loaded with beneficial nutrients like protein. The omega-3 fatty acids found in tuna stimulate a hormone called leptin, which balances the body’s food intake with the internal desire to eat more. This can reduce overeating and make sure that your body is only consuming what it actually needs.

Boosted Immune System

Tuna contains a good amount of vitamin C, zinc, and manganese all of which are considered antioxidant in nature. Antioxidants are one of the body’s defense mechanisms against free radicals, the harmful by-products of cellular metabolism that cause cancer and other chronic diseases. However, the real champion of tuna’s immune system-boosting potential is selenium. Tuna fish is rich in this mineral, giving nearly 200% of the daily requirement in a single serving. This makes the fish a very powerful antioxidant and immune-boosting food.


Intake of tuna fish is good for relieving depression. Findings of a research study suggest that fish consumption may be beneficial for women’s mental health. It can also reduce depression levels in women.