We have a very happy school of sharks here in Wellington today, happy to hear the news from local retailer Foodstuffs (New World, Pak'n'Save and Four Square supermarkets) that they are shifting to more sustainable sources across most of their 'Pams' canned tuna range!
This is fantastic news to celebrate on world oceans day, as the fishing method most commonly used to fill tuna cans has been wreaking havoc on Pacific tuna stocks and other ocean life. The method is the combination of fish aggregation devices (FADs) – floating objects that lure in tuna and many other species – and purse seines – huge nets that indiscriminately scoop up everything in the vicinity. As you can imagine, this deadly combination causes a grim toll of bycatch: sharks, turtles, juvenile tuna and other ocean life.
Foodstuffs, along with the other four main canned tuna brands, received thousands of emails from concerned customers asking them to switch to tuna caught by more sustainable fishing methods. The company had already announced they would be adding a premium tuna range caught by pole and line fishing, a method with little bycatch. This latest announcement goes a big step further, shifting the bulk of their canned tuna range to better sources, a move that will save a lot of creatures from dying needlessly in the Pacific.
This announcement also calls into question Sealord's claim that ending the use of FADs in purse seine fisheries is a complex issue. It seems the company, New Zealand's largest canned tuna brand, has put the issue in the “too hard” basket, concentrating instead on a new logo and branding.
Well that's not good enough. Foodstuffs has just shown it can be done, and further afield all but one of the main tuna brands in the UK have already shifted or committed to shift their tuna away from purse seiners using FADs.
Sealord needs to put as much effort into cleaning up the contents of its cans as they have been putting into the label. A new logo isn't enough to hide the shameful bycatch of Pacific ocean life, killed alongside the tuna to fill Sealord's cans.
Come on Sealord – change your tuna !