Great news from our colleague Giorgia, oceans campaigner in Italy: One of the major canned tuna brands in Italy, Mareblu, has committed to shift to pole and line and FAD free tuna!
Thanks to campaigning by Greenpeace and our supporters, leading Italian tuna brand Mareblu has decided to abandon destructive fishing methods in favour of sustainable practices by agreeing to source tuna only from pole and line and FAD free purse seining operations by the end of 2016. The move is a huge victory for our Tonno in trappola campaign and is a significant first shift in the Italian tinned tuna market. Mareblu has shown that when a company really wants to commit to taking action to save our oceans, it can do it. Now that the standard has been set, there can be no more excuses- all other major brands and retailers must follow.
Pole and line caught tuna arrives on UK supermarket shelves.
Since Greenpeace Italy’s campaign to change the tuna industry’s sourcing policies began in 2010 with our Italian tuna ranking “la Classifica Rompiscatole” (breaking cans), the major brands had only taken small steps. At the end of last year, we exposed the lack of transparency in the industry’s labelling practices by releasing an investigation called “The secrets of tuna: what is hidden in a tin?” At that time, no brands were offering 100 percent sustainable tinned tuna in Italy.
But now this has changed. Mareblu, the third largest tuna brand (by sales) in Italy, is part of the MW Brands group, owned by Thai Union Frozen, the world’s biggest seafood company. After a year of pressure they have decided to adopt for Mareblu the same sustainability commitment previously made for their UK brand John West (link). We look forward to the same commitment for its French brand Petit Navire.
Most of the tuna in the world is caught by a fishing method which uses vast nets called ‘purse seines’ along with fish aggregating devices (FADs). FADs are floating objects often equipped with satellite-linked sonar devices. Tuna instinctively gather around them, but FADs also attract a host of other species, including sharks, juvenile tuna and turtles, all which are also scooped up by the purse seines. On average, every time this method is used, 1kg of other species will be caught for every 9kg of tuna .
Phasing out FAD use is a vital step forward if we are to protect our oceans, overfished tuna populations and, in turn, guarantee a sustainable future for the industry.
Pole and line caught skipjack tuna in Indonesia.
Mareblu has also signed up to support marine reserves, and will no longer source fish caught in the Pacific Commons. Furthermore, as most of the tuna sold in Italy is yellowfin, a species in crisis and among the most threatened by FAD fishing, the company has committed to use more sustainably-caught Skipjack tuna and stop sourcing vulnerable bigeye tuna altogether. Later this year, Mareblu will also start labelling their products with the tuna species name, and where and how the tuna was caught.
Now Mareblu has to prove its commitment is real: action must follow words. Year by year the company will need to source an increasing amount of certified sustainable tuna products to satisfy consumers in Italy, and progress towards their 2016 target. Mareblu sustainable skipjack pole and line product should be on the shelves already this year.
Here in New Zealand we have also been campaigning for our canned tuna brands to do the right thing by our oceans and chose sustainably-caught tuna. Retailer Foodstuffs (which owns the Pams tuna brand, and New World, Pack 'n Save and Four Square stores) responded almost immediately by adding a pole and line tuna range and, by the end of last year, shifting 85 per cent of their canned tuna to FAD-free sources - thereby avoiding much of the bycatch of other ocean life.
Sadly, our biggest tuna brand Sealord is refusing to do the right thing and still sources its tuna from fleets using fish aggregating devices. Every day they continue in their unsustainable ways, ocean creatures die needlessly alongside the tuna for Sealord cans.
Today I stopped into a dairy at lunchtime and had a look in the tuna section (not a place I visit often) and saw that Sealord tuna was 70c more expensive than the same size can of FAD-free Pams tuna.
You might expect that a better environmental option would cost a little more, and many consumers are willing to pay this difference to know they're playing a part in caring for our planet. But in this case, Sealord tuna is more costly to the oceans and more costly to the consumer! You can take action first by emailing Sealord and asking them to "change their tuna" and second by making sustainable choices when you buy seafood.