Tuna is one of the world's favourite fish and a staple in many Canadian households. Tuna provides a critical source of protein for millions of people across the globe. As a top predator in marine food chains, tuna holds a unique place in ocean ecosystems. But growing demand is pushing tuna and other species impacted by destructive tuna fishing practices beyond their limits.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reported in 2011 that of the species most commonly found in cans (yellowfin, skipjack, albacore and bigeye) three are threatened or near threatened. Bigeye is listed as vulnerable and yellowfin and albacore are listed as near threatened. Vulnerable species could face global extinction and near threatened species are close to the threatened threshold or would be threatened without ongoing conservation measures. As tuna fleets continue to overfish bigeye, yellowfin and albacore, they are all at risk.
Tuna stocks are also threatened by destructive methods used mainly to catch skipjack‒the most abundant tuna species. Purse seine fleets often set giant nets around floating objects known as Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs). FADs are placed in the open ocean to attract tuna. They not only attract adult tuna, but baby bigeye and yellowfin, which places more pressure on these stocks. FAD use also kills more than just tuna.
Sharks, rays, trigger fish, marlin, and sea turtles are also caught as a result of FAD use. Longlines with thousands of baited hooks lure sea turtles, sharks, and seabirds. This is why the tuna industry catches millions of these marine creatures each year. They are often thrown back to sea dead or dying.
There is a solution. Greenpeace is working to transform the tuna markets so that tuna is sourced by sustainable and equitable means. In Canada, we are pushing major tuna brands and supermarket chains to change their tuna. We are targeting Clover Leaf Seafoods, Canada’s largest brand of unsustainable tuna.
How Greenpeace works to ensure tuna for tomorrow
Challenging the marketplace: We urge companies to adopt a strong tuna procurement policy. We demaind that they commit to sourcing from sustainable fishing methods like pole and line and FAD-free purse seining. We also ask companies to support marine protection by not sourcing tuna from proposed marine reserve areas like the Pacific Commons of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. Each year, we evaluate and rank 14 of the major brands on their performance on reducing their tuna footprint.
Working with change-makers: Greenpeace works with progressive coastal nations and companies to reclaim their fisheries, move to more sustainable fishing methods to protect livelihoods and tuna at the same time.
Informing consumers: Ignorance isn’t always bliss. We reach out to consumers and the public to help educate them through on-the-ground awareness activities, published reports, online engagement, and invite them to use their voices for positive change.
Pressuring global governments: We lobby member countries of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) in charge of managing tuna to reduce the amount of tuna caught, combat illegal fishing, adopt precautionary and ecosystem-based management measures, and to ban the use of destructive fishing gear like the FADs used in purse seining.
Expose ocean destroyers: With Greenpeace’s ships and ability to be present on the water, we are able to witness and provide first-hand accounts and images of wasteful, and often illegal, practices at sea.