Change your tuna says Greenpeace to NZ brands

Press release - April 27, 2011
Auckland, New Zealand brands of canned tuna are selling fish which has been caught using methods that are wiping out the main source of our tuna stocks from the Pacific and are killing endangered marine life, says Greenpeace.

Today Greenpeace launched a new phase in its campaign to stop overfishing of Pacific tuna by asking its supporters and the public to contact the main brands of canned tuna and ask for a commitment that they follow the lead of brands in the UK and in other parts of the world that are shifting to more sustainably caught tuna. (1)

The campaign is being directed at Sealord, John West, Greenseas and the 'own brand' products of New Zealand’s two supermarket chains -Home Brand, Signature Range, Select and Pams. “The message to our tuna brands is ‘change your tuna’,” says Greenpeace New Zealand Oceans Campaigner Karli Thomas.

“We’re challenging the brands to start sourcing truly sustainable fish and stop selling tuna that has been caught using destructive fishing methods which catch and kill endangered sharks and turtles and tuna so young that they haven't had a chance to reproduce.”

Thomas says the main method of catching skipjack tuna, the most common species used in canned tuna, is also one of the most destructive fishing methods.

“Industrial fishing fleets use fish aggregation devices (FADs) which are like floating death traps, to lure tuna – then they scoop up everything in the area with huge purse seine nets. As well as the intended tuna catch this method kills up to 10 times more bycatch than more sustainable methods.” (2)

The Greenpeace call to New Zealand brands is part of a global campaign to stop the decline of tuna stocks and protect endangered ocean life. In recent years all but one of the UK’s major canned tuna brands have announced they will stop using tuna caught by purse seiners using fish aggregation devices. (3) This huge shift, in part due to Greenpeace rankings of tuna brands and pressure on companies, was described by major UK newspaper The Independent as “one of the most successful environmental campaigns in years.” (4)

Thomas says that New Zealand is lagging behind the other parts of the world when it comes to adopting standards that will ensure healthy oceans and plentiful tuna for future generations.

“Alternative fishing methods are available, but New Zealand canned tuna brands are still selling us tuna netted using methods that also catch endangered sharks and turtles that are then dumped back into the ocean dead or dying. Kiwis deserve better standards that ensure the tuna they buy is sustainable.”

Greenpeace is also calling on New Zealand tuna fishing companies and the Government to support steps to ban destructive fishing methods and stop the decline of Pacific tuna stocks. This includes supporting a ban on fish aggregation devices and closing four areas of high seas in the Pacific to all fishing.

All Pacific tuna stocks are in decline. Bigeye and yellowfin are the most at risk. Scientists have advised that fishing needs to be cut by up to 50 per cent in the Pacific to allow bigeye tuna to recover.

There are more than 6000 vessels licensed to fish in the Western and Central Pacific region. In 2009 those vessels caught almost 2.5 million tonnes of tuna – around 60 per cent of the world’s tuna supply. Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation, working to create a more sustainable and equitable fishing industry and a global network of marine reserves covering 40 per cent of the world’s oceans - necessary steps to creating healthy, living oceans. Ends

For more information:

Karli Thomas, Greenpeace NZ Oceans Campaigner, 021 905582 Phil Crawford, Greenpeace MZ media & communications, 021 22 99 594

Images and a graphic showing how FADS are used with purse seine nets are available by contacting Phil Crawford.

Notes to editor:

(1) (2) (3) (4)