In a statement released earlier today (1), John West, Australia’s largest tuna brand, pledged to phase out the use of highly destructive and wasteful fish aggregating devices (FADs) used with purse seine nets by 2015. This will include John West tuna sold in New Zealand.
This makes John West the third of the five major tuna brands sold in New Zealand to respond to a Greenpeace campaign to end destructive tuna fishing. Sealord, New Zealand’s largest canned tuna brand, is refusing to take the same steps.
Greenpeace New Zealand Oceans Campaigner Karli Thomas says the John West commitment is another important step towards halting the decline in tuna stocks and protecting the marine environment.
“John West has joined the growing ranks of progressive tuna companies around the world who are providing consumers with the sustainable tuna they demand. It’s very disappointing that Sealord, New Zealand’s largest canned tuna brand, thinks it knows better and is ignoring this urgent ocean need and sustainability trend,” she says.
“It’s an increasingly lonely CEO who stubbornly refuses to stop sourcing from destructive fishing, risking lasting brand damage as they are left behind by other companies that are determined to make their products sustainable.”
Similar commitments to phase out FADs with purse seine nets have already been made by all brands and major retailers in the UK, and Safeway in the US. Many other retailers and brands around the world are currently making progress to remove purse seine FAD-caught tuna from their supply chains.(2)
In New Zealand Foodstuffs has changed most of its Pams range of canned tuna to FAD-free and added a range of tuna caught by pole and line – a lower impact type of fishing. Greenseas, owned by Heinz in Australia, and also sold in New Zealand, has committed to phase out purse seine FAD-caught tuna by 2015.
The John West announcement comes just as the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meets in Manila in the Philippines to discuss extending FAD bans in purse seine fisheries and other measures to rescue the world’s largest tuna fisheries.
The Greenpeace ship Esperanza has just arrived to Manila after a one-month expedition in the waters of Palau and the international waters known as the Pacific Commons. The expedition revealed illegal and unsustainable fishing activity including 33 FADs – 12 of them deployed illegally in Palau's waters (3).
Pacific scientists this year advised that a total ban on FADs combined with greater regulation of longline fishing in spawning areas would be the most effective way to save the overfished Pacific bigeye tuna.(4) The use of FADs with purse seine nets results in a high catch of juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tunas as well as sharks, rays, and endangered sea turtles.
Greenpeace’s campaign to halt the decline in Pacific tuna stocks is the subject of a one-hour documentary titled ‘Karli Thomas and the Raiders of the Last Tuna’ which will premiere on TV1 tonight, December 4, at 7.30pm.
Notes to Editor:
3) Finds from Greenpeace's expedition are available online at: http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/press/reports/Greenpeace-International-findings-at-sea-November-2012/