Greenpeace launches initiative for markets to “pre-order” sustainable skipjack tuna

Press release - 27 April, 2009
Greenpeace has launched guidelines and an on-line pre-order petition at the European Tuna Conference in Brussels calling on retailers, restaurants and tuna traders to pre-order and shift their supplies to sustainable and equitable skipjack tuna.



Many stocks of tuna species are dangerously in decline. Even fisheries not yet fully exploited are using fishing methods that negatively impact juvenile tuna and other vulnerable species such as sharks and turtles, leaving the marine environment in peril.


Skipjack tuna is often harvested by purse seine fleets operated by companies from industrial fishing nations from the North, leaving very little of the social and economic benefits in the hands of coastal states (1). However, many coastal states, such as the Pacific Island countries, are in a prime position to develop a sustainable pole and line skipjack industry. Pole and line fishing is a method well-suited to local use, providing income and livelihoods to coastal communities and therefore providing a more equitable product (2).


“Pole and line fishing has the potential to be a selective and most environmentally-sound method of fishing skipjack,” said Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner. “If conducted properly, it can have very low by catch levels and also ensure a much higher quality of fish, as every fish caught is brought on board alive.”


There is currently little choice available for sustainable and equitable supplies of the world’s favourite fish on the supermarket shelves. Greenpeace has launched a“pre-order petition” to encourage retailers, restaurants and other tuna traders to actively seek coastal state partners willing to develop pole and line operations and assist in ensuring market access and capacity-building on the ground.


“Demonstrating the market demand of better products will be key to encouraging and empowering tuna-rich nations to develop sustainable and equitable pole and line skipjack industry and limit the access of foreign industrial fleets to their waters,”said Tolvanen. “With skipjack accounting for over half of the world’s tuna catches, retailers should support sustainable and equitable options through a transition towards local pole and line tuna fisheries (3)”. 


The online“pre-order petition” for pole and line caught skipjack tuna is available at:

Other contacts: Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner: +31 (0)6 5512 5480 Lara Teunissen, Greenpeace International communications: +31 (0) 6 4616 2042

Notes: (1) The Pacific Island states, for example, receive on average a mere 6%3 of the USD 3 billion value of the tuna caught in their waters. Local fishermen find their once tuna-rich waters depleted; there are few jobs for local people, and as most of the catch is exported there are also food security issues. (2) The accompanying employment benefits could help fight poverty in the region, and provide livelihoods and income to local communities, as has been the case in the Maldives. At present, Maldives has a fleet of over 1000 pole and line vessels, employing over 20,000 fisherman and many more in boat-building, processing and other support roles. (3) Retailers should source sustainable and equitable tuna through a transition towards local pole and line skipjack fisheries, ensuring the following:o Tuna does not come from stocks that are overfished or where overfishing is occurring and that the coastal state has an adequate management plan is in place to limit the number of vessels and effort involved in the fishery to sustainable levels;o Significant by catch of yellowfin tuna or any other species association with the pole and line fishery is mitigated;o If FADs are used, they are closely monitored and managed;o The coastal state has an effective bait fish monitoring and management plan in place that avoids overfishing, by catch and other negative ecosystem impacts; and The coastal state also works towards implementing an ecosystem approach to fisheries, including a network of marine reserves to ensure the long-term well-being of its marine environment and resources.