For close to two years we’ve been asking Sealord, New Zealand’s largest brand of canned tuna, to stop selling tuna which is caught using a method that destroys countless marine creatures, including sharks, baby tuna and turtles.
Yesterday Sealord took a small step in the right direction but it’s still quite a few paces behind the growing number of brands, here and overseas, that are phasing out tuna caught using the destructive fishing method which combines fish aggregating devices (FADs) and purse seine nets.
Sealord has just signed a pledge with WWF to try and reduce the bycatch levels in its supply chain. In other words it realises it’s not a good look to be buying tuna from vessels which are also hauling in the cast of Nemo and throwing most of them back into the ocean dead or dying. Not a good look for a company which trades on an image of ‘sustainability’ and certainly not good for marine life and the Pacific Ocean where most of New Zealand’s tuna, for the canned market, is caught.
If Sealord is serious about sustainability and reducing bycatch levels the simple and best solution is to remove FAD-caught tuna from its supply chain. The science is clear that ending FAD use will reduce the bycatch of sharks, baby tunas and other ocean life.
In New Zealand this has been recognised by Pams which has changed most of its canned tuna range to FAD-free or pole and line (a much cleaner fishing method) caught tuna - so better options are already available in our supermarkets. Other brands sold here, Greenseas and John West, have also committed to do similar over the next two years. Along with Safeway in the US all the main UK tuna brands and retailers have ruled out the use of FADs.
For Sealord the WWF pledge is a start. John West, which is based in Australia, started with the same pledge. However, following a strong campaign by us and its customers, at the end of last year, John West increased its commitment to save ocean life by getting FADs out of its supply chain.
Now Sealord must step up the pace do the same.