Greenpeace Welcomes Tuna Giant Brand Sustainability Move

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Alongside climate change, the state of the world’s oceans and the life it harbors is one of the major environmental challenges of the Anthropocene. Overfishing caused by industrial, aggressive practices has run fisheries down across the globe while pollution and acidification has created dead zones where life cannot thrive.

According to the World Economic Forum, wild fish capture peaked around 1996 and has been declining 0.38 million tons per year according to UN data. Currently, 90 percent of the world’s fish stocks are at capacity or beyond sustainable levels.

Tuna, one of the most widely consumed seafood types, is one of the most affected, for all the reasons cited above. In order to monitor the situation, Greenpeace has been keeping a canned tuna sustainability index for the Canadian market to help consumers make more informed choices and support companies that adopt sustainable practices.

The NGO's lobbying with seafood companies reached a successful outcome this week. Thai Union, the company behind brands such as John West, Chicken of the Sea, Petit Navire, Mareblu, and Sealect, has announced a series of changes to protect ocean stocks, workers and reduce harmful fishing practices in its supply chain.

The decision is the result of a campaign launched two years ago and supported by an array of stakeholders, including unions, members of the public, seafood workers and communities that depend on the ocean for their livelihoods.

“Together, we pushed companies supplied by Thai Union to sell better products and commit to policies that help workers and our oceans, including tackling practices like transshipment that fuel illegal activity and human rights abuses,” Greenpeace said in a statement.

Thai Union will implement a series of changes. These include a reduction of fish aggregating device (FAD) use by an average of 50 percent, and double supply of verifiable FAD-free caught fish globally by 2020. FADs are floating objects with a high-rate of bycatch, killing untargeted marine species such as sharks, turtles and juvenile tuna.

The other commitment is also related to fishing methods and covers longline vessels that also affect non-targeted species. Thai Union promised to reduce the amount of tune caught that way and switch to ‘best practice pole and line or troll’ by 2020 as well as implement strong requirements to reduce bycatch.

The company has also pledged to extend its current moratorium on at-sea transshipment across its entire global supply chain unless suppliers succeed in meeting certain stricter conditions. Transshipment at sea means vessels can continue to fish for months or even years at a time, making illegal activity easier.

Also part of the commitment is the presence of independent observers on all longline vessels transshipping at sea to report labor abuse, which often happens out of sight and goes unreported. Thai Union will also draft a code of conduct for its supply chain beginning January 2018.

Finally, an independent third party will conduct an audit to measure progress.

Greenpeace is now calling on the rest of the industry, including buyers and sellers, to support Thai Union and to work towards a sustainable and socially responsible standard. “Customers should not have to choose between bad or better, all tuna should be responsibly-caught to help address the oceans’ overfishing crisis,” the NGO said.

Image credit: Greenpeace