Sealord lonely cheerleader for deadly fishing method

Press release - March 20, 2013
Auckland, 20 March 2013 – Sealord is now the only big Australasian canned tuna brand which has refused to stop using a destructive fishing method which kills sharks, juvenile tuna and turtles, Greenpeace warned today.

Recently Aldi (1) became the last of the main Australian tuna brands which promised to stop using a fishing method which kills around 200,000 tonnes of other marine life every year. (2) Four of New Zealand’s five main brands have already made a similar pledge along with all the major UK major tuna brands and retailers plus Safeway in the US.

But Sealord says it will continue to source its tuna from boats using fish aggregating devices (FADs), which attract tuna and many other species, along with purse seine nets which let nothing escape.
“Sealord should have led the way in ending this deadly practice. Now, it’s the lonely cheerleader for a destructive fishing method being rejected by all its local competitors and by tuna brands around the world,” says Greenpeace New Zealand Oceans Campaigner Karli Thomas.

“It’s a shameful waste with up to 10 times more bycatch compared to more sustainable methods like pole and line fishing.”(3)

Sealord says purse seiners using FADs “increases efficiency” (4) but recently signed a pledge with WWF (5) to try and reduce bycatch levels in its supply chain.

“Sealord’s acknowledgement that bycatch levels need to be reduced is a small step in the right direction but its support of this wasteful fishing practice makes a joke of its sustainability claims.”

Last month Woolworths Limited, the parent company to New Zealand's Countdown supermarket chain announced it was shifting its own brands away from FAD-caught tuna. It said the move “will significantly reduce the bycatch of sharks, dolphins and juvenile tuna in the supply chain”. (6) Woolworths says its Select range at Countdown will change to pole and line caught tuna by the end of the year.

New Zealand shoppers already have more sustainable options. Pams, the own brand for Foodstuffs-owned supermarkets, has changed most of its range to FAD-free and pole and line caught tuna. Ceres, a much smaller player, introduced the Fish 4 Ever range of pole and line caught tuna more than a year ago.

The other big brands sold in New Zealand are John West and Greenseas, Both are Australian-based and have recently made similar commitments to stop selling FAD-caught tuna on both sides of the Tasman.

“Unlike Sealord, these companies are clearly committed to sustainable fishing methods which are essential to protecting our oceans for the next generations,” says Thomas.