What a waste: The hidden cost of canned tuna
We have a choice. Either we forceour favourite brands to change the
way they source their sh, or we face
the real possibility that our children willbe the last generation to have tuna intheir sandwiches.Less well-known is the effect tuna
shing is having on other species. As aresult of wasteful shing methods, our
tuna catch is causing the widespreaddeath of endangered and threatenedmarine animals – including sharks,rays, dolphins and turtles – knowncollectively as ‘bycatch.’ In tuna purse
seine sheries using Fish AggregationDevices, or FADs, for every 10kg
catch, up to 1 kg is bycatch and afurther 2kg is juvenile tuna – meaningthat it is too young to reproduce.
This bycatch is the
dirty little secret oftuna brands.
The solution to reducing bycatch is
simple. The rst and most urgent stepis to ban the use of FADs (oating
objects, often equipped with satellitetracking, used to attract tuna) in purse
seine sheries. Doing so would, at a
stroke, reduce bycatch by up to 90%.
Killed alongside the
skipjack tuna that
nds itself in your tin is
almost the entire cast
list of Finding Nemo.
Canned tuna is Australia’s favourite
seafood, but our voracious appetite is
having a devastating impact. Almost allof our tuna comes from the Pacic and
after only a few decades of industrial
shing, most if not all of the commercial
tuna species are now exploited atunsustainable long-term levels.
Markets make a difference
depends on the healthand sustainability
of the ocean. We
know that sh stocksaround the world arein decline and manyshing practicesare destructive and
wasteful. The switch
to 100% pole andline, and droppingyellown for skipjack,were in the endobvious choices.”
Andrew Mitchell, CEO,Safcol Australia.
©Gr eenpeace /Hof f ord
Australia now imports most of its
seafood, the bulk of this as cannedtuna. Nearly all of this comes from the
Western and Central Pacic Ocean. As
a nation, we spend over $330 millionevery year on canned tuna.
Most of our tuna is caught in the
national waters of our Pacic Islandneighbours by East Asian and American eets. It is then canned in
huge factories in Thailand before beingshipped to our supermarket shelves.None of our canned tuna comes
from Australian waters any longer.If Australian brands demand sustainable
tuna, producers will respond.
In the UK all supermarkets and allmajor tuna brands have announcedthey will no longer source tuna caught
with purse seines and FADs, making
the UK the world’s most sustainabletuna market. Given it is also thesecond largest canned tuna market inthe world, the impact in the water will
also be signicant. Australian brands are lagging behind.
While some are moving slowly in the
right direction, 8 out of 10 Australian
brands continue to source tuna caught
using purse seine nets with FADs.
Only one major brand – Safcol – hasdropped this practice fully by switchingto 100% pole and line caught tuna.Greenseas, the second biggest tuna
brand in Australia, has made thecommitment to drop FADs from their
product by 2015.But time is running out for tuna. UK
supermarkets have banned the FAD;
it’s time for
Australian brands to do