Supermarkets step up sustainable Pacific tuna sourcing

Industry Database

As governments meet in Honolulu to decide the future of Pacific tuna stocks at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), Greenpeace has applauded the decision taken by several German, Austrian and Australian retail chains to switch to tinned tuna containing Pacific skipjack tuna caught without the use of fish aggregation devices (FADs).

The move follows years of Greenpeace campaigning to involve supermarkets in the campaign to create healthy oceans.

It also comes as independent genetic testing has shown that popular tinned tuna products from 12 countries often contain a mix of species without being labelled as such – a contravention of European Union regulations state that containers may only hold one species of tuna.

The tests, commissioned by Greenpeace International, also revealed many tinned tuna products contain vulnerable species such as bigeye and yellowfin tuna in tins labelled as skipjack products.

“It is a huge step forward to see retailers recognise that they should be selling responsibly-caught sustainable tuna, and that destructive fishing operations – especially purse seine vessels using FADs – will eventually wipe out tuna if action to save the Pacific tuna stocks is not taken here in Honolulu,” said Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner.

In recent years, the tuna industry has increasingly employed FADs – man-made floating objects used to attract tuna to fishing nets. When a purse seine net is set around a FAD, not only the targeted tuna are caught. Juvenile tuna, sharks, turtles and other animals gathering around it are also scooped up, resulting in a huge waste of marine life.

Greenpeace is in talks with several retailers and they are expected to follow and not to sell FAD-caught products in the near future.

“The Pacific Island countries have already initiated a three-month annual ban on FAD fishing. This was found to be effective in reducing the number of juvenile tunas caught, but it must be extended to a year-round ban in order to improve the state of Pacific tuna populations,” said Lagi Toribau of Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

“The WCPFC can provide markets with good products and help restore our oceans to health by closing large areas of international waters to fishing and banning the use of FADs in Pacific purse seine fisheries. Otherwise, the tuna industry will fish itself to death and for the Pacific region and its people, no fish means no future.”

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