Tuna Processors Commit to Certified Catches

sustainable tuna fisheries photo

Image credit: International Seafood Sustainability Foundation

When I wrote about FishChoice's online sustainable seafood tool, commenter Bird argued that there really isn't any such thing as "sustainable seafood" given the state of our oceans. Others disagreed - but that's likely to be a long and heated debate that won't go away in a hurry. In the meantime, I hope we can all agree at least that the less fish comes from clearly endangered fisheries, the closer we will be to true sustainability. That's why a new mandate from the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation which requires companies to certify tuna catches as being from non-endangered stocks can only be a good thing.Participating processors will be required to keep detailed records documenting the name and flag of catcher and transshipping vessels, fish species, ocean of capture corresponding to tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO) area, fishing trip dates, fishing gear employed, date the company took ownership of the fish and each species by weight. Miguel Jorge, Director of WWF's Marine Program and ISSF Board member had this to say about the new resolution:

"One of the most powerful tools against illegal or pirate fishing is the adoption of catch documentation schemes to provide traceability for seafood. We're particularly pleased that ISSF participants have adopted a comprehensive program tracing tuna from capture to plate."

Participants also commit to withdrawing any product from shelves if it is found to be in violation of the new mandate. The ISSF's founding members include Bolton Alimentari; Bumble Bee Foods, LLC / Clover Leaf Seafoods; MW Brands; Princes Ltd.; Sea Value Co., Ltd.; StarKist Co.; Thai Union Manufacturing Co. Ltd / Chicken of the Sea Intl.; TriMarine International; and WWF.

The organization claims that 90% of tuna comes from healthy stocks which, if true, would suggest that a scheme like this can have considerable leverage in decreasing market share for the endangered 10%. For those wanting to dive into the numbers in more detail, James Joseph, an ISFF board member, gives more scoop on the state of tuna stocks over at the New Scientist.

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