Good news last week with the Pams brand starting to take steps towards changing its canned tuna to sustainable sources.

In the last three weeks more than 5000 of our supporters have emailed the ‘change your tuna’ message to the five main brands of canned tuna challenging them to start sourcing truly sustainable fish and to stop selling Pacific tuna that has been caught using fish aggregation devices (FADs).

FADs, which are like marine death traps, are responsible for the death of endangered sharks, turtles, juvenile tuna and other ocean life. These devices increase bycatch of purse seine fisheries from 1 - 2% up to 10% of the catch.

Foodstuffs, the owner of the Pams brand, has delivered the most encouraging response so far. In an email to concerned customers Foodstuffs Executive Manager Melissa Hodd announced that their “own label” range, Pams, will include a line of sustainable pole and line caught canned tuna by the end of this year.

That's great news – but we want the whole canned tuna market to put a stop to the bycatch caused by their use of tuna caught around FADs, as has occurred in the UK where all but one of the major brands have committed to source only pole and line or FAD-free purse seine tuna. That means brands must commit to a full shift to sustainable sources, to stop this decimation of ocean life from happening in the Pacific.

There is a sign of hope on that front –  the email from Foodstuffs goes on to say the company is “actively investigating alternative options” to FAD-caught tuna. This is a good indication that it is starting to listen to New Zealanders’ concerns over the sourcing of canned tuna products as well as taking notice of what’s happening at sea and in international tuna markets.

We need to continue encouraging these steps in the right direction so that Foodstuffs commits to a definite timeframe for phasing out FAD-caught tuna and puts a policy in place guaranteeing it sources only sustainably caught tuna.

If Foodstuffs delivers on these promises it has the potential to become the market leader for sustainable canned tuna in New Zealand and will be catching up with what’s happening overseas. Kiwis care about our oceans and what's happening to them. Our tuna brands should respect that by offering us the same sustainable choices that are available in other countries.

The other main New Zealand brands, Sealord, John West, Greenseas and Progressive Enterprises (which owns Select, Signature Range and Home Brand), have yet to indicate they’re ready to make the same changes. Sealord, in particular, seems reluctant to do anything saying there is “no simple answer”, completely ignoring the steps being taken by brands in the UK and elsewhere around the world.

Our tuna brands must stop sourcing FAD-caught tuna. This is the simple step that Sealord, and other the brands, would take if they were serious about tuna sustainability.

You can send the five main brands an email asking them to start sourcing sustainably caught tuna.

If you’ve already done this you can send a follow-up email to Sealord, John West and Progressive Enterprises urging them to address the FAD issue.

You can also check out the main points they are making and our responses here.