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Can't see the fish for the tuna? Can't see the fish for the tuna? CREDIT: Greenpeace NZ

Can't see the fish for the tuna?

Thursday 11 August 2011, 9:07AM
By Greenpeace New Zealand


Auckland, 10 August, 2011 – Greenpeace has run a full page advertisement, in this week’s issue of a women's magazine calling on Sealord to change its canned tuna to more sustainable sources.
Based on the seafood species posters once common in fish and chip shops, the ad features images of 18 marine species, from sharks to tropical fish, but labels them all as tuna. The tagline reads; Sealord tuna. What’s the catch?

“Sealord gets its tuna from companies using fishing methods that are catching and killing far more than just tuna,” says Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Karli Thomas

“Industrial fishers are combining fish aggregation devices (FADs) and purse seine nets resulting in shameful waste of ocean life.”

Tuna instinctively gather around FADs, but, Thomas says, these “oceanic minefields also attract the whole cast of Finding Nemo, including threatened sharks, juvenile tuna and even turtles”. Known collectively as bycatch, all of these creatures are then scooped up by the purse seine nets. They are often thrown back into the sea injured, dead or dying.

“According to statistics circulated by Sealord, bycatch of other species is five to 10 times higher when purse seiners use FADs. This wasteful method also has serious impact on tuna stocks, as juvenile and undersized tunas make up 15-20 per cent of the catch,” says Thomas.

Three months ago Greenpeace launched a campaign calling on New Zealand’s main brands of canned tuna to stop selling tuna caught this way.

Since then more than 13,000 emails have been sent to Sealord by concerned customers, urging the company to change its tuna.

In response to consumer concerns Foodstuffs announced on World Oceans Day in June that it will be changing most of its Pams range of canned tuna to FAD-free by the end of the year.

Overseas John West has just committed to phase out its use of FAD-caught tuna, joining the rest of the UK's main canned tuna brands which have shifted, or committed to shift, to more sustainably caught tuna.

An updated ranking of the main tuna brands in Australia, released by Greenpeace today, shows two companies have committed to stop selling FAD-caught tuna and two others have improved on sustainability since last year.

Most of New Zealand’s canned tuna comes from the Pacific which, until recently, had the world's last healthy tuna fisheries. These are now under threat as industrial fishing fleets, which have exhausted tuna stocks in other oceans, are concentrating their efforts in the Pacific.

Greenpeace is campaigning globally to create a more sustainable and equitable fishing industry and a global network of marine reserves covering 40 per cent of the world’s oceans - necessary steps to creating healthy, living oceans.