Canned tuna's secret catch

Check out the fishing method that is being phased out by New Zealand’s big canned tuna brands.

Video details

New Zealand’s five big tuna brands have committed to phase out a destructive tuna fishing method that kills sharks, turtles and baby tuna. This makes us the third country, behind the UK and Australia, to take steps to change to more sustainably caught tuna. This is good news for the Pacific tuna fishery which supplies most of New Zealand’s canned tuna. However, there is still more we can do to preserve tuna stocks and ensure we have tuna on our shelves, and in our Pacific Ocean, for the long-term:

  • The New Zealand Government must stand with our Pacific neighbours to ban the most destructive fishing methods, end overfishing and create marine reserves;

  • New Zealand’s tuna fishing companies must switch to more sustainable methods.

Until recently the Pacific had the world's last healthy tuna fisheries. These are now being overfished as industrial fishing fleets, which have exhausted tuna stocks in other oceans, are now concentrating their efforts in the Pacific.

All Pacific tuna stocks are in decline. Bigeye and yellowfin are the most at risk. Scientists have advised that fishing needs to be cut by up to 50 per cent to allow bigeye tuna to recover.

Many fishing fleets are using methods which are destructive catching five to 10 times more turtles, sharks and juvenile tuna compared to more sustainable fishing practices.

There are almost 6000 vessels licensed to fish in the Western and Central Pacific region. In 2012 those vessels caught over 2.6 million tonnes of tuna – around 60 per cent of the world’s tuna supply.

Foreign fishing vessels continue to steal tuna from the region, exploiting four pockets of international waters between Pacific islands nations. Illegal fishing is estimated to cost the Pacific region up to NZ$1.7 billion per year.

In 2013 we launched a report providing a blueprint for Pacific Island governments and regional bodies to promote a more sustainable and locally owned and operated tuna fishery in the region.

The report - titled Transforming Tuna Fisheries in Pacific Island Countries: An Alternative Model of Development makes detailed recommendations for how to develop smaller-scale and locally owned fisheries that will maximise economic returns, create local jobs and better protect countries’ precious tuna reserves for the long term.

The latest updates


International Unsustainable Overfishing

Blog entry by Sari Tolvanen | March 7, 2011

Skipjack tuna and bycatch caught in the eastern Pacific using a Fish Aggregation Device (FAD) in 2009. Despite the crisis facing our oceans , we often hear excuses from industry players: telling us that we do not need urgent...

Skipjack tuna is cheap and plentiful... or is it?

Blog entry by Jamie Woolley, Greenpeace UK | March 3, 2011

Tuna fishing in the eastern Pacific Of all the tuna species, skipjack is seen as the most plentiful and the most sustainable. The speed with which it reproduces and matures has meant stocks are more resilient to our industrial...

Sharks ask Princes: if you found Nemo, would you kill him too?

Blog entry by Jamie Woolley | February 22, 2011

By the time you read this, I'll be at the head office of Princes in Liverpool where a frenzy of sharks is demanding an end (a fin-ish?) to the dreadful fishing methods that kill other marine species like sharks, rays and even...

Quota increase puts tuna on track to extinction says Greenpeace

Press release | February 17, 2011 at 12:14

The increased quota for southern bluefin tuna puts the species on the fast track to extinction, says Greenpeace.

UN study reveals state of world's fisheries: Greenpeace has the solution

Blog entry by Steve Smith | February 2, 2011

Yesterday, at an obscure United Nations meeting, some distressing news came from a gathering of policy-makers, scientists and diplomats in Rome. The Food and Agricultural Organisation is convening in Italy and yesterday put forward...

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