"Last month Greenpeace challenged New Zealand's five main tuna brands to step up and show leadership in tuna sustainability – Foodstuffs is now the clear leader,” says Greenpeace New Zealand Oceans Campaigner Karli Thomas.
Currently canned tuna sold in New Zealand is bought from companies using fishing methods which kill endangered sharks, turtles, juvenile tuna and other ocean species. One of the worst fishing method combines fish aggregation devices (FADs) and purse seine nets which scoop up everything in the vicinity. The unwanted species, known as bycatch, are usually thrown back into the sea dead or dying.
FADs used together with purse seine nets result in bycatch up to 10 times higher than other more sustainable methods.
Last month Foodstuffs announced the introduction of a premium range of tuna caught by pole and line fishing, a method that results in little bycatch. Today it announced that the remainder of its canned tuna, with the exception of two products, will be sourced from FAD-free purse seine sources.
“This is a big step towards protecting tuna stocks and other ocean species in the Pacific from being wiped out by indiscriminate and wasteful fishing methods. We’re now calling on New Zealand’s other main brands to follow Foodstuffs' example.”
Last week Greenpeace escalated its campaign, urging Sealord to change to sustainably caught tuna.
“As New Zealand’s largest supplier of canned tuna Sealord should get the message loud and clear that its days of foisting unsustainable tuna products on New Zealanders are numbered. Sealord had the opportunity to become a leader in tuna sustainability but continues to choose FAD-caught tuna even though alternatives are available.”
In the last six weeks more than 11,000 concerned customers have joined the Greenpeace campaign and sent emails to Sealord urging it to change its tuna.
The Foodstuffs announcement follows similar moves in other parts of the world. In the UK, the world's second largest canned tuna market, all but one of the major brands have committed to end their use of tuna caught by purse seine nets with fish aggregation devices.
Until recently the Pacific had the world's last healthy tuna fisheries. These are now under threat as industrial fishing fleets, which have exhausted tuna stocks in other oceans, are 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.(1) Skipjack, the most common species used in canned products, is also under pressure.(2)
Greenpeace is campaigning globally to create a more sustainable and equitable fishing industry and a global network of marine reserves covering 40 per cent of the world’s oceans - necessary steps to creating healthy, living oceans.