2014 Canned Tuna Guide - Rank

Standard Page - 13 May, 2011
Tuna brands play a key role in the overfishing crisis by selling us unsustainable tuna. It's time every brand takes responsibility.

Welcome to the Greenpeace canned tuna ranking

This is our first tuna ranking since our successful campaign last year to get Australia's biggest tuna supplier, John West, to switch to 100% FAD-free and pole and line tuna. Since then, you might be aware, every other brand and retailer in our ranking made a similar commitment. But the news gets even better – for starters, Sole Mare, which were the last brand holding out, have recently announced that they'll switch to pole and line as well (we're not quite sure when yet, but it's a brilliant start). And there's even bigger news from Aldi – although Aldi originally committed to be FAD-free and pole and line by 2016, they've just confirmed that this year, they'll already only be ordering 100% pole and line from their suppliers.

All the tuna we eat is caught here in our region, most of it from the Pacific ocean. So, every can of tuna that you don't buy that was caught using destructive fishing methods, under an unfair arrangement, or relying on a species at risk is doing a favour for coastal fishers right here in Australia and our neighbours in the Pacific.

So What Should I buy?

It's simple, look for 'pole and line' canned tuna products and you will be making the right choice for our oceans. Try to avoid buying yellowfin tuna, and focus your choices on skipjack or albacore. Make sure the tuna you buy clearly has the species name, where it was caught, with the fishing method used written clearly on the label. Thankfully, you can now find a great variety of these products in every supermarket in Australia, and hopefully, from 2015, you won't be able to buy a bad option.

Roll your mouse over a brand on the left to see how they rate

Fish4Ever

This UK company provides the best example of fair and environmentally sound sourcing of tuna. Fish4Ever pioneered sustainable pole and line caught tuna in Australia and its commitment continued undiminished to promote fisheries that benefit local communities. Fish4Ever is still the benchmark.
  • 100% pole and line caught tuna.
  • Promotes sustainable tuna in political, industry and consumer fora.
  • Supports local coastal fisheries and pays a premium price to local fishers.
  • Clear, honest, comprehensive labelling.
  • Could improve on baitfish management.
  • Should phase out overfished yellowfin

Safcol

Safcol was the first Australian company to commit to 100% 'pole and line' caught skipjack tuna and all Safcol Tuna sold in supermarkets is fished using responsible methods. Safcol genuinely wants to improve the tuna industry and promotes sustainable methods publicly. Since last year, this market leader has also improved its labelling information on catch area.
  • Promotes sustainable fishing methods and the conservation of overfished tuna species like yellowfin.
  • Publicly supports marine reserves.
  • Good labelling.
  • Supports fisheries improvement programs for pole and line.
  • Improved labelling of catch area but could do better
  • Should improve traceability audits.

ALDI

Thanks to its switch to 100% ‘pole and line' and FAD-free sourcing for both of its exclusive brands ahead of schedule, Aldi has climbed up to the third position. They have very strong traceability and a fair and independent third-party traceability scheme. Their labelling has also appreciably improved offering to the consumer a clear ‘pole and line' message on cans and in-store advertising. Just avoid Aldi's Oceanrise brand which is based on at-risk yellowfin tuna and choose it's more sustainable Portview range instead.
  • Switched to 100% ‘Pole and Line' and FAD-free sourcing
  • Publicly supports marine reserves and does not source from high seas pockets.
  • Publicly supports reducing FAD use.
  • Strong on traceability and good at providing information to the public.
  • Could provide clearer wording for catch area on the can.
  • Still using overfished yellowfin tuna.

Make a better choice

ALDI mostly uses destructive fishing methods for its tuna. However, it does offer this 'pole and line' product. If you must choose ALDI, choose this.

John West

John West is putting into practice its commitment to stop using FADs and source 100% ‘pole and line' or FAD-free tuna by 2015. They could do more to promote their ‘Pole and Line' alternative which is currently offered on the shelves of Australian supermarkets and major improvements have been made in traceability and sourcing policy. John West is also engaged in a valuable project in the Pacific that aims to improve environmental and social outcomes for coastal communities. Must still improve labelling.
  • 100% skipjack tuna, mostly from the Western Central Pacific Ocean.
  • Supports marine reserves and valuable sustainability projects.
  • Good traceability.
  • Committed to drive positive change.
  • Improved the labelling but can do better on catch method and fishing area.
  • Will still use FADs until 2015

Make a better choice

Until its new sustainability commitment is implemented in 2015 it's best to stick to John West's pole and line range. If you choose John West, choose this.

Greenseas

Greenseas was the first big brand to make the positive commitment to stop using destructive fish aggregating devices (FADs) by 2016 and has also made the right choices in terms of species, choosing 100% skipjack tuna from the Western Central Pacific Ocean. Deserves credit for providing financial support to improve Pacific fisheries science and conservation measures. Greenseas has been overtaken in this year's canned tuna guide because unlike its competitors, it doesn't have any responsibly fished option on the shelves. Choose something else until the full transition is implemented.
  • 100% skipjack tuna from the Western Central Pacific Ocean.
  • Publicly supports marine reserves and does not source from the Pacific Commons.
  • Offers valuable support for Pacific fisheries scientists and conservation groups.
  • Provides good information on its website and recognises its unsustainable practices.
  • Good labelling for species, catch method and fishing area.
  • Should offer a pole and line alternative until FAD-free hits shelves.
  • Will still use FADs until 2015.

Coles

Coles' has a solid sustainability policy for its private label tuna. Unlike rival Woolworths, Coles made a good species choice using only skipjack; and by 2015 all its range will be 100% FAD-free and 'pole and line'. But, like Woolworths, the supermarket giant plays a damaging role in keeping the price of less sustainable tuna low. If you wish to buy Coles, choose its 'pole and line' or albacore range until it has fully implemented its FAD-free commitment.
  • Good species choices - skipjack and South Pacific albacore tuna from the Western and Central Pacific Ocean plus 'pole and line' skipjack from the Maldives.
  • Strong on labelling by supplying species name, catch method and catch area.
  • Supports marine reserves.
  • Provides some responsible options.
  • Should do more to promote its sustainable options in store and avoid driving down the price of less sustainable tuna.
  • Will still use FADs until 2015

Make a better choice

Coles mostly uses destructive fishing methods for its tuna. However, it does offer a 'pole and line' product and a trolling product. If you must choose Coles, choose one of these.

IGA

IGA has made big improvements to labelling and disclosure over the past year but needs to get to know their supply chain better. Luckily for consumers, IGA added a 'pole and line' range to its private label last year and now their ‘Signature' range should also be FAD-free. If they meet their 100% FAD-free commitment, their 'Black & Gold' tuna will be responsibly caught by 2015 as well.
  • 100% skipjack tuna from the Western Central Pacific Oceans.
  • Good labelling that now includes species, catch area and fishing method.
  • Supports Pacific Commons marine reserves and fisheries improvement.
  • Offers a 'pole and line' option.
  • Limited traceability
  • Will finish the transition to 100% FAD-free by 2015

Make a better choice

IGA has committed to end destructive fishing methods by mid-2015 for all its tuna - although its 'signature' range will be FAD-free by the end of 2013. It also offers this pole and line product. For now, if you choose IGA, choose this.

Sirena

Sirena is transforming its commitment into action. Almost half of its canned tuna products are already ‘pole and line' and it will hopefully finish its FAD-free transition well ahead of the 2016 schedule. Unfortunately, Sirena uses almost entirely overfished yellowfin tuna.
  • Pole & Line implemented for almost half of its sourcing
  • Supports positive sustainability and development initiatives.
  • Good traceability and labelling with catch method, species and catch area.
  • Uses overfished yellowfin tuna

Woolworths

Woolworths has provided Greenpeace with no evidence regarding the traceability of its supply chain or progress toward its goals to be FAD-free and pole and line. It also backflipped on yellowfin tuna.

Woolworths public commitment is a good one, but it needs to be backed up by transparency. Its 'Select' brand should already be sourced 100% 'pole and line', and its 'Home brand' should phase out the use of FADs by the end of 2015. While waiting for

  • Should have one third of its canned tuna already 'pole and line' sourced
  • Has committed to 100% FAD-free and 'pole and line' by 2015.
  • Labels the species name for most products but doesn't disclose catch area or fishing method.
  • Still selling yellowfin tuna.
  • No available policy that ensures equitable sourcing.
  • No guarantee not to source from Pacific Commons.
  • No evidence of traceability provided.

Make a better choice

Woolworths mostly uses destructive fishing methods for its tuna. However, it does offer this 'pole and line' product. If you must choose Woolworths, choose this.

Sole Mare

Sole Mare has recently announced that it will start its transition to ‘pole and line' sourcing, which is fantastic news - they now need to provide a deadline for this transition. Although its product range is based entirely on yellowfin tuna which is fished at unsustainable level - Sole Mare has flagged major improvements to its sustainability policy, traceability, and information disclosure. Sole Mare should do better!
  • Will start transition to 100% ‘pole & line' by 2014.
  • We are not sure of when ‘pole and line' transition will be completed.
  • Exclusively uses yellowfin tuna.
  • No fixed date for it pole and line commitment.
  • No guarantee not to source from high seas pockets.

What tuna should I buy?

Most tuna brands remain hooked on destructive fishing practices, which threaten tuna stocks and unnecessarily kill other marine life.

Thankfully, consumer pressure has forced many brands to change their tuna. You can now buy sustainable ‘pole and line' caught tuna in nearly every supermarket around Australia.

Put one of these products into your basket and make a better choice for our oceans.

How were brands ranked?

The tuna brands were ranked based on the following criteria:

Sustainability Policy

It is essential that companies have in place an effective policy that ensures their products are produced sustainably.

Fishing methods used

Most tuna is caught using purse seine nets with fish aggregation devices (FADs), a method responsible for high levels of bycatch including sharks and other marine life, as well as juvenile tuna from threatened species. In contrast, 'pole and line' fishing offers a less wasteful solution, with reduced bycatch. 'Pole and line' fisheries also tend to offer greater economic returns to local populations. Purse seine fishing without FADs is an acceptable secondary option.

Tuna species used

Each tuna species is under different levels of pressure. Bigeye and yellowfin tuna are overfished and at risk. Skipjack tuna is declining, but is the tuna species of least concern.

Labelling

Providing comprehensive information on labels gives customers the opportunity to make an informed choice based on the product's sustainability. Labels should include the species name, catch method and the area the fish was caught in.

Support for marine reserves and equitable tuna policies

Companies should offer public support for the establishment of marine reserves, including the proposed protected areas known as, the Pacific Commons. This will ensure the long-term sustainability of fish stocks and healthy marine ecosystems. It is equally important that reasonable economic benefits are returned to the countries who own the rights to individual fish stocks.

Use of illegal or unregulated products

Illegal fishing accounts for up to 46% of fishing activity in the Pacific. This is exacerbating the overfishing crisis. Companies must be able to guarantee their supply chain does not include operators that engage in illegal, unregulated or unreported (IUU) fishing.

The information has been obtained from a combination of brand responses to a Greenpeace product survey, correspondence with brands and retailers, publicly available information and product evaluation.

Greenpeace is grateful for the assistance provided by retailers and brand suppliers in providing relevant information as well as for the assistance provided by various third party experts.

Glossary

Bycatch

Unwanted marine life caught when fishing, such as sharks, turtles and juvenile tuna. Some fishing methods have a higher rate of bycatch than others.

Fish aggregating devices or FADs

Fish and marine life are attracted to these floating objects. Highly destructive particularly when used with purse seine nets.

High sea pockets

Also known as international waters or Pacific Commons, these areas fall outside the jurisdiction of nations and are targeted by illegal vessels. We want them to become marine reserves.

Illegal, unreported, unregulated vessels

They steal fish, which exacerbates the overfishing crisis. Also known as pirate fishing vessels.

Longliners

Their lines are sometimes hundreds of kilometres long, baited with thousands of hooks. Very destructive.

Marine reserves

Similar to national parks on land, they are areas free from fishing and other activities. Essential to replenish marine ecosystems.

Pole and line

One of the most sustainable methods of catching tuna because each fish is individually caught. Look out for pole and line caught tuna in your supermarket.

Purse seines

Giant nets that encircle schools of fish and then are drawn tight like a drawstring purse. Very destructive when used with FADs (how most tuna is caught), much better when FAD-free.

Skipjack tuna

The healthiest species
of tuna.

Southern bluefin tuna

Critically endangered. Mostly used in sushi.

Albacore tuna

Near-threatened. Better options available.

Yellowfin tuna

Near-threatened and continues to be overfished.

Bigeye tuna

Vulnerable.