Greenpeace welcomes industry initiative to address tuna decline

Press release - 16 March, 2009

Greenpeace welcomes the launch today of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) (1), an organisation made up of key players from the global tuna processing industry.

Global tuna stocks are in crisis, with many key species such as bluefin, bigeye and yellowfin depleted in all oceans. The situation has been exacerbated by the abject failure of fisheries management bodies to protect stocks. The ISSF is the first body of tuna processors to address the emergency.

"Greenpeace welcomes the formation of the ISSF," said Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner. "So far those organisations mandated to manage tuna stocks have failed to do much more than push the species to the brink of extinction. With the fishing industry clearly willing to fish itself to death, it's great to see processors finally taking a stand. Now we need the fine words of the ISSF to be translated into real action."

Greenpeace urges that, as a crucial first step, the ISSF must recognise that many of its members trade in tuna stocks that are being overfished, including bigeye and yellowfin and some stocks of albacore.

Greenpeace warns the industry that wasteful fishing techniques such as the use of Fish Aggregation Devices (FADS) with purse seining ships threatens endangered species such as sharks and turtles, as well as their target species. FADS in particular attract juvenile tuna before they have had a chance to breed, further threatening the species.

ISSF members must set an example by conforming to the highest standards in their procurement policies. This means only sourcing tuna that:

-    comes from well-managed, non-depleted stocks

-    can be verified as having been caught legally

-    has not been caught using methods that result in unacceptable levels of by-catch

-    has not been transshipped (offloaded) at sea

Greenpeace calls on the ISSF to address equity - this means ensuring coastal states, such as Pacific island nations, receive a fair price for their tuna from distant water fishing nations as well as support for measures to effectively control their waters.

"We expect ISSF member companies to 'walk the talk' they will deliver to tuna management bodies," said Nina Thuellen, Greenpeace International oceans consumer markets coordinator. "This means the ISSF's political demands must also be reflected in the sourcing standards of its members. They must also be accountable to consumers who want and have the right to legal, fair and sustainable products."

Greenpeace wants to see ISSF support modern fisheries management principles such as the precautionary principle and the ecosystem approach. This means recognising marine reserves and no-take areas as central to any sustainable management policy.

Other contacts: Jane Kochersperger, Greenpeace USA media officer +1 202 680 3798Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner (inAmsterdam) +31 655 125 480Nina Thuellen, Greenpeace International oceans consumer marketscoordinator (in Vienna) +436645484553