Nina, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner, writes about the latest developments in our efforts to protect one of the world's most important fish.
As part of our campaign to save the oceans, Princes tuna, an industry leader in canned tuna products, has been receiving thousands of emails from people around the world raising questions about the sustainability of their tuna. Princes uses tuna fished with unselective methods that end up taking many sharks, turtles, skates, rays and often young tuna. So in addition to threatening endangered wildlife - Princes are also preventing the proper recovery of the fish stocks that they rely on.
Princes is now responding to the letters they have been getting from our supporters, saying that the company “acknowledges that all fishing methods result in some level of by-catch” and they “support the need to develop and implement ways of mitigating the impact of commercial fishing on non-target species.”
To prove their concern, Princes has given examples of what they are doing, claiming they “will not trade with companies or vessels that have not banned the practice known as shark finning.” Sounds great, because cutting the fins off live sharks and throwing them back into the water where they will die a slow and agonizing death is terrible. But, what Princes refuses to admit is that the tuna used for their products is mostly coming from fisheries which use fish aggregation devices (FADs). And this is a method that is also killing large numbers of sharks. While Princes “recognizes concern” over FADs and “supports the need to minimise the by-catch associated with their use,” they’re not actually doing anything to address it. Addressing the bycatch problem won’t just help restore tuna populations and our oceans to health - it will ensure that Princes can continue selling their products. If Princes wants to be in the tuna buisiness tomorrow they need to stop taking so much young tuna today.
A FAD in the Pacific
We had a similar issue last week when the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), the industry front-group of which Princes is a part, called on the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission to take action on transshipment. A method used by pirate fishermen to disguise their illegal catches. Again, this is something about which we can wholeheartedly agree - it is an efficient measure to control pirate fishing. But, this call is in fact another hollow act, considering that ISSF and its member companies could easily commit to stop buying tuna from fishing companies that engage in tuna transshipment.
There is a clear solution here for Princes: stop using FADs and support the creation of marine reserves to help keep tuna populations at healthy levels. Instead, they make convenient statements and acknowledgements, commit to easy measures with minimal impact and attempt to justify sticking with a cheap and efficient fishing method - sucking huge amounts of tuna out of the ocean with each haul and making massive profits.
Purse seine net - one of the most indiscrimnate methods of catching tuna.
Princes can continue to catch and cash in on tuna destruction as long as it can. But if they want tuna and if they want to be in business in the future, they need to take action to save the tuna and our oceans today.
If you haven’t urged Princes to do the right thing, please do so now.
You can also find out more about our campaign for marine reserves here.
Below is the full response our supporters are getting from Princes.
Thank you for contacting us and voicing your concern. Princes has a serious and genuine commitment to sustainability and we welcome dialogue with organisations that are engaged in sustainability development. Princes acknowledges that all fishing methods result in some level of by-catch and we therefore support the need to develop and implement ways of mitigating the impact of commercial fishing on non-target species.
Long-line and drift net fishing methods are not permitted in our specifications and we will not trade with companies or vessels that have not banned the practise known as shark finning. Princes recognises concerns over fish aggregation devices (FADs) and supports the need to minimise the by-catch associated with their use. We also support measures which seek to reduce operational waste, discards, and abandoned or lost fishing gear.
Our catch methods are considered legitimate, sustainable and dolphin-friendly by the Earth Island Institute (EII), which monitors our tuna suppliers as part of its EII international monitoring programme.
More information on the EII can be found at www.earthisland.org/immp/.
Our view, which is shared by a large section of the scientific community, other environmental non-governmental organisations and the majority of the international canned tuna industry, is that a joined-up approach is required to bring about long-term improved sustainability across all global tuna catch areas.
Consistent with this view, Princes is a co-founder of The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), and we fully support the conservation initiatives of this organisation as part of our long-term commitment to improving industry best practice.
The ISSF is a global partnership among leaders in science, the tuna industry and WWF, the world's leading conservation organisation.
The ISSF undertakes science-based initiatives for the long-term conservation and sustainable use tuna stocks, reducing by-catch and promoting ecosystem health. Details about the positive steps taken to date by ISSF are available on its website at www.iss-foundation.org.
Princes supports the principle of using scientifically-based protective closed ocean areas, including no-take marine reserves, to accomplish clear conservation objectives for fish populations and the ecosystems upon which they depend. We will not source fish from ocean areas that are designated as Marine Protection Areas (MPAs) by Regional Fishery Management Organisations (RFMOs) and we support efforts to conduct further scientific research into the impact that closed areas and marine reserves may have on fish stock and eco-system status.
Princes' specifications stipulate no illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) catch of fish and we therefore do not trade with any companies or vessels on RFMO IUU lists.
Finally, our updated Wild Caught Seafood Sustainability Statement, which details these and other commitments, is available to download from our website at
I hope that this is a useful update in response to your enquiry.
Customer Care Team