UK retailers question tuna sustainability

Tesco tuna Waitrose and Tesco have written to the MSC Board about certification of compartmentalised tuna fisheries

UK retailers have told the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) they are concerned about selling tuna from compartmentalised fisheries.

Waitrose and Tesco confirmed to a group of MPs this week that they had written to the MSC Board about the subject of compartmentalised tuna fisheries being certified, and their belief that this practice is not in the best interests of responsible fishing policies.

Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, said: “I am pleased that Tesco, Waitrose and M&S have written to the MSC Board to raise their concerns about tuna from compartmentalised fisheries and I hope Sainsbury’s follows suit.

“The big supermarkets are aware of the questionable practices taking place in these tuna fisheries and they need to take responsibility for products they are selling.

“The MSC has been a hugely important tool in the fight to save our oceans, but compartmentalisation of these major tuna fisheries threatens to erode trust and destroy its brand. That would be bad for the whole industry.”

Supermarket stocks

Waitrose currently stocks John West Tuna from a major compartmentalised fishery in the Western and Central Pacific, whilst Tesco stock own label products from a compartmentalised fishery at the Solomon Islands.

M&S detailed their concerns a few weeks ago but currently have no tuna from compartmentalised fisheries in store. However, they do stock MSC certified products.

The letters from Waitrose and Tesco were sent following a meeting in Parliament between cross-party MPs and retailers on 8 January.

Sainsbury’s attended the Parliamentary meeting on the 8th January but have yet to confirm if they have shared their concerns with the MSC. They also stock tuna from compartmentalised fisheries.

MSC meeting

This week the MSC Board of Trustees met to discuss the future of compartmentalised tuna fisheries including the recertification of the PNA, the world’s largest tuna fishery, which is a major compartmentalised fishery.

The concern from UK supermarkets comes as the MSC Technical Advisory Board (TAB) recommended the MSC Board address compartmentalisation’s place in the MSC Standard.

James Heappey, MP for Wells, stated: "The MSC must take this opportunity to correct this loophole in their Standard to ensure consumer confidence in the 'Blue Tick'.”

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