2013 Canned Tuna Sustainability Ranking

Page - April 17, 2013
This is the third edition of Greenpeace Canada’s Canned Tuna Sustainability Ranking. Fourteen well-known national and private label brands of supermarket chains have been evaluated on their commitment to protect our oceans through their tuna sourcing. Thanks to consumers and our supporters demanding change, more sustainable tuna products are increasing on store shelves, and companies are starting to shift their tuna sourcing policies and practices. But not all brands are taking steps to ensure their tuna is ocean-friendly. Some brands aren’t taking steps forward at all. Canada’s biggest brand, Clover Leaf, came in last this year, leaving its customers little choice but canned ocean destruction.

This is the third edition of Greenpeace Canada’s Canned Tuna Sustainability Ranking. Fourteen well-known private label brands of supermarket chains and national brands have been evaluated on their commitment to protect our oceans through their tuna sourcing. Thanks to consumers and our supporters demanding change, more sustainable tuna products are increasing on store shelves, and companies are starting to shift their tuna sourcing policies and practices. But not all brands are taking steps to ensure their tuna is ocean-friendly. Some brands aren’t taking steps forward at all. Canada’s biggest brand, Clover Leaf, came in last this year, leaving its customers little choice but canned ocean destruction.

Click a brand on the left to see how they measure up

1st - Raincoast Trading

Raincoast Trading has topped the ranking again this year with its continued willingness to improve its sustainability policy and practices and its work with, and support for, ocean conservation groups. From fishing method to the labels on its cans, Raincoast takes care to minimize its ecological impact. Raincoast should start preaching more what it already practices to help drive tuna management organizations to reduce capacity of destructive fisheries and encourage a transition to lower impact ones.

Brand(s): Raincoast Trading

Tuna species sold: Albacore (solid white)

More sustainable products: All

  • Raincoast has a fully implemented sustainability policy that can be found on its website.
  • Raincoast only sources its tuna from troll fisheries, a more selective, ocean-friendly fishing method.
  • Raincoast can trace its tuna from ship to can and shares information about where and how its tuna is caught on its product labels. Labels are printed using soy-based ink and cover BPA-free cans.
  • In 2012, Raincoast extended its commitment to sustainability beyond its supply chain and publicly expressed its support for the creation of marine reserves, including the proposed areas known as the Pacific Commons, and vowed not to source from protected areas.
  • Raincoast provides support to organizations working to protect the oceans and species of concern including sharks.

2nd - Wild Planet Foods Inc.

Wild Planet continues to support sustainable fisheries and seek out developing ones. The company has a comprehensive tuna procurement policy with strict sustainability requirements. Wild Planet’s commitment goes beyond its supply chains and this eco-brand’s push for larger-scale change in the market and tuna industry played a role in the company staying at the top of this year’s ranking.

Brand(s): Wild Planet, Sustainable Seas (US)

Tuna species sold: skipjack (light tuna); albacore

More sustainable products: all

  • Wild Planet has a strong, fully implemented sustainable sourcing policy and provides information on its website to educate consumers about the greener fishing methods it chooses.
  • Wild Planet only sources its tuna from pole and line and troll fisheries.
  • Wild Planet has made a commitment not to source from proposed marine reserves like the Pacific Commons of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.
  • Wild Planet has a comprehensive labeling scheme for its products, which allows its customers to know more about the tuna they buy.
  • Wild Planet advocates for a real transformation of the tuna industry from one that rewards too many, destructive fishing vessels to one that favours a shift to more sustainable, selective fisheries.

3rd - Canada Safeway

Safeway has climbed the ranks again this year to third place, and has taken its commitment to ensure sustainable skipjack tuna to its shelves. After being the first major retailer to agree to switch 100 per cent of its private label skipjack tuna to Fish Aggregating Device (FAD)-free purse seine or pole and line tuna by the end of 2012, Safeway is now the first chain in Canada to have replaced all of its destructively-caught private label skipjack tuna. This move puts Safeway above its peers, on the ranking podium, and well-poised to develop its launch strategy for a line of sustainable albacore over the next couple of years.

Brand(s): Safeway

Tuna species sold: skipjack (flaked light, chunk light); albacore (flaked white, solid white)

More sustainable products: FAD-free skipjack

  • Safeway has a sustainable seafood policy that covers its private label canned tuna.
  • Safeway committed not to source its “responsibly-sourced” skipjack tuna from the proposed marine reserves of the Western and Central Pacific ocean and has a wider commitment to support the creation of marine reserves in our global oceans.
  • Safeway brand skipjack product labels note the catch method, but albacore products still lack information about how and where the tuna is caught.
  • Safeway is in the process of finalizing its sourcing requirements for its Safeway brand albacore and the company plans to introduce a more sustainable albacore line before its overall policy implementation deadline of 2015.
  • More clarity is needed on the equitability side of Safeway’s tuna policy.

4th - Canadian Fishing Company

Canadian Fishing Company (Canfisco) continues to work diligently towards its 2015 tuna sustainability goal, keeping this company high up in the ranking. While Gold Seal labels do not reflect the slow but steady increase of more sustainable product filling this brand’s cans, there is an ocean-friendly end point in sight. As one of Canada’s larger national brands, if the company stays on track, it could mean real change on shelves nation-wide.

Brand(s): Gold Seal

Tuna species sold: skipjack (chunk light, flaked light); albacore (solid white, flaked white)

More sustainable products: pole and line albacore (coming in 2013)

  • All Gold Seal brand tuna products are sourced according to Canfisco’s sustainable seafood policy. A general overview of the company’s vision can be found on its website.
  • Canfisco committed not to source its skipjack from purse seiners using Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) by 2015, and is about a third of the way to meeting its goal.
  • Canfisco supports the creation of marine reserves in the high seas of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean and committed not to source tuna from these regions by 2015.
  • Canfisco has begun to take steps to address its destructively-caught albacore by starting to replace it with tuna from pole and line fisheries. However, these products are not yet labelled.

5th - Metro Inc.

Metro has worked hard over the last year to evaluate its private label tuna supply and work to eliminate the tuna species that have been on a downward trajectory. With its strong step to put its albacore sourcing on hold until stocks recover, and its removal of Redlisted yellowfin tuna, Metro customers can at least be confident that their tuna isn’t listed as ‘Near Threatened’ by the IUCN. The company’s work to amend its sustainable seafood policy to include specific canned tuna sourcing requirements has caused its move up in this year’s ranking, but the lack of clear sourcing objectives by its 2017 implementation deadline is preventing Metro from rising to its full tuna sustainability potential.

Brand(s): Selection

Tuna species sold: skipjack (flaked light, chunk light)

More sustainable products: pole and line skipjack (coming in 2013)

  • Metro’s sustainable seafood policy covers its private label canned tuna and can be found here. The policy states that if skipjack fisheries using FADs are not improved to address the bycatch, the company will source from alternative fishing methods.
  • Metro has removed all Selection brand albacore tuna and Redlisted yellowfin tuna due to stock health concerns, and will be introducing a pole and line skipjack Selection brand line in 2013.
  • Metro provides information about the species and FAO fishing area on its product lids.
  • Metro is currently developing the equitability side of its policy to ensure its tuna is not only ocean-friendly but people friendly too.
  • Metro supports the creation of marine reserves but has yet to commit not to source its skipjack from the proposed marine reserves in the Western and Central Pacific ocean.

6th - Overwaitea Food Group

Since last year’s ranking Overwaitea Food Group (OFG) has not only developed a strong sustainable tuna sourcing policy for its Western Family brand, but the company has begun to secure more sustainable product that will be found on shelves this year. By end of 2015, the company will have made a full switch to greener tuna, but in the meantime OFG must remember to not just add sustainable tuna to its existing product array, but replace the unsustainable products. As OFG works to implement its new procurement strategy, no longer sourcing from albacore stocks of concern and paying close attention to ensure Western Family products are as equitable as they are sustainable will keep this retailer high in the ranks.

Brand(s): Western Family

Tuna species sold: skipjack (flaked light, chunk light); albacore (flaked white, solid white); tongol (flaked light, chunk light)

More sustainable products: MSC troll-caught albacore; MSC pole and line skipjack (coming in 2013); FAD-free skipjack (coming in 2013)

  • OFG amended its sustainable seafood policy to include its private label canned tuna. By the end of 2015, all of OFG’s Western Family brand tuna will come from healthy stocks and no longer come from destructive longlines or purse seines using fish aggregating devices (FADs).
  • To accompany OFG’s Western Family troll-caught albacore Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) line, OFG will be introducing a pole and line skipjack MSC line in 2013.
  • OFG’s tuna procurement policy notes that the company supports the creation of marine reserves and fisheries closures designated by Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs) responsible for managing tuna stocks.
  • Western Family’s policy currently does not include considerations for ensuring equitable sourcing; however, the company plans to develop this over the next couple of years.
  • OFG continues to sell Western Family tongol, a species difficult to assess because of a lack of scientific data on its stocks.

7th - Loblaw Companies Ltd.

Loblaw has landed in the middle of the stack again this year, but not for lack of internal momentum. Since last year’s ranking the company has created new tuna sourcing sustainability commitments in an attempt to ensure its President’s Choice and no name brand canned tuna take less of a toll on our oceans. While Canada’s retail giant continues to seek tuna from more sustainable fisheries, replacement and not addition of products will be crucial to staying true to its sustainability goals. A clearer commitment that Loblaw will only source from the lowest impact fishing methods regardless of their certification status would provide real hope for greener canned tuna aisles from coast to coast.

Brand(s): President’s Choice, no name

Tuna species sold: skipjack (flaked light, chunk light); albacore (flaked white, solid white)

More sustainable products: MSC troll or pole and line caught albacore

  • Loblaw currently sells only ISSF sourced canned tuna and has augmented its canned tuna sourcing requirements to set long-term and short-term goals for implementation to source only Marine Stewardship Council certified private label canned tuna products by 2018.
  • According to Loblaw’s new canned tuna policy, by 2015 the company will replace existing harmfully longlined President’s Choice albacore by extending its current MSC troll-caught albacore line or adding albacore from another MSC-certified fishery.
  • Loblaw’s new canned tuna policy is not explicit about the more sustainable fishing methods it intends to source from through its long-term commitment.
  • Loblaw’s President’s Choice and no name brand tuna product labels do not provide information about how and where the tuna was caught.
  • Loblaw does not currently have a commitment to ensure its tuna comes from equitable fisheries.

8th - The Pastene Companies, Ltd.

Pastene should be commended for its progress over the last year. The company has dug itself out from the bottom of the heap and has emerged with a new outlook on tuna sustainability and a shiny new procurement policy. After coming last in the 2012 ranking, the company has climbed its way up six positions after removing tuna Redlisted due to stock health concerns and vowing to source 100 per cent pole and line or FAD-free skipjack by 2016. As Pastene seeks more sustainable supply, the company should take care to ensure its tuna is equitable as well.

Brand(s): Pastene

Tuna species sold: skipjack (flaked light, solid light)

More sustainable products: none

  • Pastene has created a sustainability policy for its seafood and has detailed specific criteria for its canned tuna. The policy will be available online in the coming months.
  • Pastene removed Redlisted yellowfin tuna from sale.
  • Pastene is now able to track its tuna from ship to can.
  • Pastene brand labels lack information about where and how its tuna is caught.
  • Pastene’s sustainability policy does not note its support for the creation of marine reserves or its intent not to source from them.

9th - Ocean Brands

Ocean Brands raised expectations last year with the introduction of the first pole and line product by a large national brand, and the promise of a growing line of sustainable tuna products. In another step forward, Ocean Brands has vowed through its newly drafted sustainable tuna sourcing policy that it intends to source from 100 per cent sustainable fisheries. Without a clear end date by which this goal will be achieved, it remains unclear how long Ocean’s brand customers will be waiting for a full array of ocean-friendly products. Some reassurance through action to replace, not just add to, existing destructively-caught tuna with sustainable tuna and avoiding tuna stocks of concern will allow Ocean Brands to regain its position further up the ranking.

Brand(s): Ocean's

Tuna species sold: skipjack (flaked light, chunk light, solid light); albacore (flaked white, solid white)

More sustainable products: pole and line skipjack

  • In early 2013, Ocean Brands finalized its sustainable tuna commitment noting its intent to source FAD-free skipjack year-round and work to improve the fishing methods currently used to catch Ocean’s albacore products.
  • Ocean Brands’ commitment notes the need for traceability from ship to can, and to help ensure its products meet this requirement, new tracking procedures are in development.
  • After discontinuing Redlisted yellowfin tuna from sale, the company will introduce a pole and line yellowfin product that addresses bycatch concerns but there remain stock concerns.
  • Some Ocean’s albacore tuna comes from unhealthy stocks.
  • Clearer sourcing criteria are required to ensure Ocean’s tuna comes from equitable fisheries.

10th - Sobeys Inc.

After a revision of Sobeys’ canned tuna sourcing requirements as noted last year, there were high hopes for more sustainable Compliments or Sensations products lining the major retailer’s shelves. While the company has been diligently exploring more sustainable alternatives for its customers, the lack of a commitment to pursue a clear direction with time-bound objectives leaves questions about whether Sobeys customers will be waiting forever. Sobeys’ approach of encouraging improvements in fisheries instead of switching supply has merit, but only to a point. Sobeys must recognize that with the current state of our oceans, companies must also support fisheries that are already reducing their impact on our oceans.

Brand(s): Compliments, Sensations

Tuna species sold: skipjack (flaked light, chunk light); albacore (flaked white, solid white)

More sustainable products: none

  • Sobeys has a sustainable seafood policy that includes its canned seafood. After revising its sourcing criteria for its skipjack private label products, Sobeys has included this and other relevant sustainability information about its tuna on its website.
  • Sobeys can trace its tuna from ship to can.
  • Sobeys is in the process of developing sourcing criteria for its albacore tuna.
  • Sobeys’ Compliments and Sensations tuna labels do not tell the customer where and how the tuna was caught.
  • Sobeys sources some of its tuna from unhealthy stocks.

11th - Bolton Alimentari S.p.A.

Since the last ranking, Bolton has taken a step forward to address the bycatch concerns associated with the bulk of the tuna sold under the Rio Mare brand in Canada. Unfortunately, the step does not go far enough to ensure the product will be truly sustainable since Bolton has not committed to source from more sustainable stocks. As one of only two companies in the ranking still selling Redlisted yellowfin tuna, Bolton should consider a full switch to “light” tuna from healthier skipjack stocks. A clearer sustainability commitment for all its Rio Mare products would help this company regain its position further up the ranks.

Brand(s): Rio Mare, Saupiquet

Tuna species sold: skipjack (solid light); yellowfin (solid light)

More sustainable products: none

  • Bolton has committed to not source tuna from the proposed marine reserves of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean or from longlines or driftnets.
  • Bolton has committed to source its yellowfin tuna from FAD-free purse seine fisheries with the transition beginning at the end of 2013.
  • Bolton has not made a commitment to switch to sourcing its skipjack from FAD-free or pole and line fisheries like its products in other markets.
  • Bolton sells Redlisted yellowfin tuna from stocks of concern.
  • Rio Mare brand product labels do not provide information about how and where the tuna was caught.

12th - Walmart Canada

Walmart has done little over the last year to ensure its Great Value tuna is sustainable other than talk about it. It’s become clear that the company isn’t serious about sustainable tuna beyond the new industry minimum sourcing requirements – the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). Will this retail giant continue to turn down sustainable tuna options and fall even further behind its retail peers? 2013 will be a telling year, but in the meantime, Great Value customers aren’t ensured they’ll be getting ocean-friendly tuna any time soon.

Brand(s): Great Value

Tuna species sold: skipjack (flaked light, chunk light); albacore (flaked white, solid white)

More sustainable products: none

  • Great Value tuna is traceable from ship to shelf.
  • Walmart’s seafood sustainability policy requires all of its tuna come from members of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) and supports the ISSF’s sustainability resolutions.
  • Great Value skipjack tuna comes from purse seine fisheries employing FADs and its albacore comes from harmful longlines.
  • Walmart has not committed to support ocean protection through putting aside significant areas of the oceans in marine reserves.
  • Walmart’s sustainable seafood policy’s sourcing criteria do not address the need to eliminate destructively-caught tuna or ensure its tuna comes from equitable fisheries.

13th - Unico

Unico continues to increase transparency when it comes to its tuna sourcing, but has yet to commit to increase its products’ sustainability or equitability. Unico is now the only ranked brand that hasn’t at least taken a stab at a sustainability policy. The company only sells skipjack tuna, so a commitment to switch to sourcing from fisheries using methods that reduce the catch of species other than tuna could easily reduce this company’s impact on our oceans. The lack of action over the past year has kept Unico in second to last position.

Brand(s): Unico

Tuna species sold: skipjack (solid light)

More sustainable products: none

  • Unico’s suppliers can trace its tuna from ship to shelf but the company does not enforce any chain of custody requirements for its canned tuna.
  • Unico still does not have a sustainable seafood policy.
  • Unico sources tuna from destructive skipjack purse seine fisheries using Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) and has no commitment to transition to more sustainable tuna.
  • Unico does not publicly support equitable fishing, or the creation of marine reserves to help protect the future of the tuna it sources.

14th - Clover Leaf Seafoods

Canada’s biggest brand, self-proclaimed leader in sustainability, has found itself at the bottom of this year’s ranking. Putting all of its green eggs in the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation’s basket has done little to green Clover Leaf brand products. As Clover Leaf lobbys hard for the industry to support the ISSF’s initiatives and research into how to make bad FADs less bad, other brands may be choosing to source from ISSF members but are also seeking tuna from more sustainable fishing methods. Clover Leaf’s last place position is a combination of a lack of clear sustainability goals for its tuna products and the changing canned tuna market around it. Clover Leaf customers will have to look elsewhere for ocean-friendly products.

Brand(s): Clover Leaf

Tuna species sold: skipjack (flaked light, chunk light); albacore (solid white, flaked white); yellowfin (solid light, chunk light)

More sustainable products: none

  • Clover Leaf has a sustainability policy that can be found on its website.
  • The company’s policy is focused on supporting and following the initiatives and resolutions of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), which Clover Leaf representatives are actively engaged in.
  • Clover Leaf continues to sell Redlisted yellowfin tuna and some of its albacore tuna comes from stocks of concern.
  • Clover Leaf sources from purse seine fisheries using Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) and longlines that take a toll on other marine species and vulnerable tuna stocks.
  • Clover Leaf canned tuna product labels do not indicate the fishing method or area of catch for the species.

How were brands ranked?

Greenpeace surveyed and scored the companies based on their tuna sourcing policies and practices in seven key areas.

Sustainability Policy

A commitment to selling sustainable and equitable tuna through a policy with clear sourcing requirements to exclude tuna from unhealthy stocks, destructive fisheries, and socially irresponsible companies.

Tracing tuna from ship to shelf

Companies should be able to track their tuna through all parts of the supply chain. Information about exactly where and how the tuna was caught is key to ensuring sourcing requirements are being met.

Fishing methods

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 vulnerable stocks. 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 also a better option.

Tuna species

Each tuna species is under different levels of pressure. The species commonly found in cans in Canada include skipjack, yellowfin and albacore. Tongol is also sometimes sold. Many stocks of yellowfin and albacore are of concern, and tongol stocks are not properly assessed. Skipjack is the most abundant species.

Labelling and consumer education

Ensuring comprehensive and clear labeling on tuna products and promotion of sustainable tuna alternatives. Labels should include the species name, catch method and the area of catch.

Support for marine reserves and promoting industry change

Companies should offer public support for the establishment of marine reserves, including the proposed protected areas of the Western and Central Pacific ocean. Marine reserves allow for the long-term sustainability of fish stocks and healthy marine ecosystems. Management of tuna stocks must also be improved and companies can play a role in pressuring for change.

Avoiding illegal, unreported or unregulated products

Companies should be able to guarantee their supply chain does not include operators that engage in illegal, unregulated or unreported (IUU) fishing. Illegal fisheries undermine fisheries management efforts and exacerbate the overfishing crisis.

Information used to inform the ranking is obtained from the companies through a standardized survey, correspondence with the companies, publicly available information and in-store surveys. Greenpeace is grateful for the cooperation of the companies in providing information, and for the help given by volunteers and supporters who gathered “on the ground” information.

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. Very destructive 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

Also known as pirate fishing vessels, they steal fish, exacerbating the overfishing crisis.

Longliners

Lines 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, as 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 FAD-free.

Skipjack tuna

The healthiest species
of tuna.

Bigeye tuna

Vulnerable. Avoid.

Albacore tuna

Near-threatened. Better options available. Knowing the exact stock matters.

Yellowfin tuna

Near-threatened and continues to be overfished. Avoid.

 

 

 

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