Supermarkets Step Up in Movement for Sustainably-Sourced Pacific Tuna

Press release - December 8, 2010
Amsterdam, 8 December 2010- As governments meet in Honolulu to decide the future of Pacific tuna stocks at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), Greenpeace applauds the decision by several German, Austrian and Australian retail chains (1) to switch to tinned tuna containing Pacific skipjack tuna caught without the use of wasteful and unsustainable fish aggregation devices (FADs).

The move follows years of Greenpeace campaigning to involve supermarkets in the campaign to create healthy oceans It also comes as independent genetic testing (2) has shown that popular tinned tuna products from twelve countries often contain a mix of species without being labeled as such – a contravention of European Union regulations state that containers may only hold one species of tuna (3). The tests, commissioned by Greenpeace International, also revealed that many tinned tuna products contain vulnerable species such as bigeye and yellowfin tuna in tins labeled as skipjack products. 

“It is a huge step forward to see retailers recognise that they should be selling responsibly-caught sustainable tuna, and that destructive fishing operations – especially purse seine vessels using FADs – will eventually wipe out tuna if action to save the Pacific tuna stocks is not taken here in Honolulu,” said Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner.

In recent years, the tuna industry has increasingly employed FADs – man-made floating objects used to attract tuna to fishing nets. When a purse seine net is set around a FAD, not only the targeted tuna are caught. Juvenile tuna, sharks, turtles and other animals gathering around it are also scooped up, resulting in a huge waste of marine life. Greenpeace is in talks with several retailers and they are expected to follow and not to sell FAD-caught products in the near future.

“The Pacific Island Countries have already initiated a three-month annual ban on FAD fishing. This was found to be effective in reducing the number of juvenile tunas caught, but it must be extended to a year-round ban in order to improve the state of Pacific tuna populations,” said Lagi Toribau of Greenpeace Australia Pacific. “The WCPFC can provide markets with good products and help restore our oceans to health by closing large areas of international waters to fishing and banning the use of FADs in Pacific purse seine fisheries. Otherwise, the tuna industry will fish itself to death and for the Pacific region and its people, no fish means no future.”

Greenpeace is campaigning for a more sustainable fishing industry, which includes working with retailers across Europe, Australia and the Americas to increase the market share of sustainably-sourced tuna. In addition to fishing industry reform, Greenpeace is also campaigning for a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans, both necessary steps to creating healthy, living oceans for future generations.

For more information about Greenpeace at the WCPFC, visit www.greenpeace.org/international/wcpfc

 

Notes:

(1) The retailers who have made public commitmens are Aldi in Australia, MPreis in Austria, and Kaufland and Norma in Germany. Aldi Australia made a public commitment to FAD free tuna in May 2010 - see their online policy here 

(2) A detailed briefing paper on the tests and results, along with a list of the brands tested and a report from the testing laboratory AZTI Tecnalia, can be found here.

A minimum of five different products from each country were tested, and for each product, tests were usually run on three different cans from the same batch or from different batches. In total, products from 50 tuna brands were tested (see Annex 1 of briefing paper for lists of brands) with a total 165 products tested.

(3) Article 2(2) of Council Regulation (EEC) No 1536/92 states that "Different species may not be mixed in the same container" (emphasis added). Thus, it is clear that the ban on mixing in the same container refers to individual species and not to genera / families. Text can be found here.