Following a Greenpeace campaign that ranked Princes at the bottom of a tinned tuna sustainability league table for the UK market, the tuna giant has announced that it will switch to supplying tuna sourced from non-destructive methods. Princes, which sells more tinned tuna than any other company in the UK, has been joined by supermarket chain Asda in moving away from fishing methods that are responsible for killing sharks and fuelling the overfishing of vulnerable tuna species.
“Today’s announcements by Princes and Asda are great news for sharks, tunas and our oceans. Now that the UK’s largest tinned tuna seller has joined top supermarkets and dropped destructive fishing, it leaves another major brand John West firmly at the bottom of the rank in terms of sustainability in the UK,” said David Ritter, head of Greenpeace UK’s oceans campaign.
Princes, owned by Japanese giant Mitsubishi, and Asda, owned by Walmart, have committed to ending their reliance on tuna fishing using vast nets called ‘purse seines’ along with fish aggregating devices (FADs). FADs are floating objects, often equipped with satellite-linked sonar devices. Tuna instinctively gather around FADS, including large numbers of juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tuna, as well as as many other species, including sharks and rays, that are then scooped up by the purse seines. Princes and Asda have stated that they will fully source pole and line caught FAD-free purse seine- caught tuna by 2014. In addition, Princes has agreed to not source any tuna from the Pacific high seas pockets(1) that Greenpeace has demanded be declared as marine reserves; currently purse seine fishing is currently only restricted in this area by the surrounding island countries.
Princes’ new commitment follows months of pressure from Greenpeace, including more than 80,000 e-mails sent to the company via Greenpeace websites. In February 2011, Greenpeace campaigners staged a “shark attack” in Liverpool by climbing on top of Princes’ offices, hanging banners and having activists dressed as sharks hand out information to Princes employees and passersby.
“This move by Princes and Asda will put enormous pressure on the rest of the global tuna industry to start following sustainable practices. Consumers are not interested in being made complicit in the destruction of oceans by their tuna purchase decisions,” said Sari Tolvanen Greenpeace International Oceans Campaigner. “Companies selling unsustainably caught tuna take note: Greenpeace will continue to push the world’s seafood markets, tuna brands and the rest of the tuna industry to adopt standards that will ensure healthy oceans and plentiful tuna for future generations.”
UK brands John West and Morrisons are now the least sustainable of the main tuna brands in the country, according to the Greenpeace sustainability league table. Both companies continue to use FADs and purse seines to catch the bulk of their tinned tuna. Supermarkets Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer have already stopped selling tuna caught using these methods, while in January, Tesco promised to follow suit after pressure from Greenpeace and chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Greenpeace has launched similar league tables to the UK in Australia, Canada and Italy and is continuing its campaign on key unsustainable brands across Europe, the Americas, Australasia and the biggest seafood market in the world, Japan.
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