Spreading the Word About Sustainable Canned Tuna Far and Wide

by Kate Melges

May 28, 2015


Written by Sarah King and Kate Melges

It’s been quite a busy couple of months since we released our Tuna Shopping Guide, shining a light on canned tuna brands that are working to be ocean safe and those that are failing their customers and our oceans. News about our ranking on 14 well-known brands traveled far and wide, with thousands of consumers, ocean lovers and members of industry sharing the results and spreading the word. This week, other canned tuna buyers in the US market will be receiving the results in the mail as a warning to watch what they are stocking on their shelves.


After taking our ranking directly to the industry at the Boston Seafood Expo, to the public and tuna consumers on the streets, and online to our supporters and web-savy shoppers, we’ve now started to reach out to other key canned tuna buyers. The Tuna Shopping Guide revealed that while canned tuna is sold under various brands in the US, the three biggest brands – Starkist, Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea, are responsible for over ¾ of it, and their products line shelves nation-wide.


The problem with this is that none of these big brands offer a sustainable option under their flagship brands and therefore all of that tuna comes from fisheries that are unsustainable, wasteful and straight up bad for our oceans and tuna-dependent island nations.


Our ask to these big brands is clear – commit to offering sustainable and socially responsible tuna for your customers, and create a deadline by which point we can be assured that the tuna behind the labels is ocean safe. Sustainable or ocean safe means sourcing from healthy tuna stocks and current best-practice fishing methods in terms of reducing the impact on ocean life like pole and line, troll and handline, and convert to purse seines fishing on free schools of tuna and where possible, fully mitigated longlines. Socially responsible means ensuring the tuna not only comes from slavery-free operations but from companies treating their employees with respect and paying them fair wages.


We are reaching out to other canned tuna buyers to ask them to review the ranked brands to see which they currently sell, review their sourcing policies and practices to determine a way forward to ensure their canned tuna is not red-ranked. We will be following up with these companies and reaching out to more in the coming months as we work to ensure a greener canned tuna market in the US and other key markets around the world.


A more sustainable and responsibly tuna industry is possible, we’re seeing big companies step up to create a brighter future for our oceans.


Kate Melges

By Kate Melges

Kate Melges is an oceans campaigner based in Seattle. She leads Greenpeace’s Ocean Plastics work. Kate’s focus is ending the flow of plastic pollution into the ocean.

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