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What a waste: the hidden cost of canned tuna

What a waste: the hidden cost of canned tuna

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Canned tuna is Australia’s favourite seafood, but our voracious appetite is having a devastating impact. Almost all of our tuna comes from the Pacific and after only a few decades of industrial fishing, most if not all of the commercial tuna species are now exploited at unsustainable long-term levels.
Canned tuna is Australia’s favourite seafood, but our voracious appetite is having a devastating impact. Almost all of our tuna comes from the Pacific and after only a few decades of industrial fishing, most if not all of the commercial tuna species are now exploited at unsustainable long-term levels.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Greenpeace Australia Pacific on Oct 12, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/19/2013

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www.greenpeace.org.au
 W h a t  a 
 w a s t e : 
 t h e  h i d d e n  c o s t  o f  c a n n e d  t u n a
 
1
 
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.
Charles Clover 
Canned tuna is Australia’s favourite
seafood, but our voracious appetite is
having a devastating impact. Almost allof our tuna comes from the Pacic 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
“Safcol’s future
depends on the healthand sustainability
of the ocean. We
know that sh stocksaround the world arein decline and manyshing practicesare destructive and
wasteful. The switch
to 100% pole andline, and droppingyellown for skipjack,were in the endobvious choices.”
 Andrew Mitchell, CEO,Safcol Australia.
©Greenpeace/Ho fford
©Geenpeace /Hoord
 Australia now imports most of its
seafood, the bulk of this as cannedtuna. Nearly all of this comes from the
Western and Central Pacic 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 Pacic 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 signicant. 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
all 
Australian brands to do
the same.
 
 
What a waste: The hidden cost of canned tuna
 
2
FADs are oating objects, often
equipped with satellite-linked sonardevices, which are used to attract tuna.
 Tuna gather around the FADs, allowing
them to be scooped up in vast netsknown as purse seines. These purseseines consist of a huge curtain of netthat encircles a school of tuna and thencloses when a line is pulled, much likea draw-string purse. It is estimated thataround 70% of the total global purse
seine catch is taken using FADs.
1
 
 The problem is, FADs attract all
manner of marine life, not just tuna –this gets scooped up too and is knownas bycatch. The global tuna industry knows it hasa bycatch problem. The InternationalSeafood Sustainability Foundation
(ISSF) – which counts as its members
the global giants of the tuna tradingindustry – agrees that when used
without FADs, “purse seine shing has
an average by-catch rate of less than
1 percent (0.5-1%).”
2
When used in
combination with FADs, the bycatch is
typically ten times greater
3
– and canbe much worse.Most of this is made up of sharksand rays – although whales, dolphinsand turtles are also commoncasualties. But the problem is manytimes greater when you include thebycatch of juvenile tuna from high-
value, at-risk species. According tothe ISSF, “purse seine shing on FADs
can also lead to greater catches of small tuna, typically of the bigeye and
yellown species. This can represent15-20% of the catch…”
4
 
Globally, it is estimated that FAD
associated bycatch in purse seine
sheries may now be as high as
182,500 tonnes annually.
5
This global
bycatch would ll the equivalent of 
nearly 1 billion cans of tuna every year.
6
 
“Greenseascustomers expect a
sustainable productand we recognisethe need to improve
our footprint. Purseseining for skipjackusing FADs is havingan unsustainable
impact on bigeye andyellown stocks, as
well as other marine
life, in the Pacic. We
feel it is important tophase out FAD use, toensure the long-term
viability of Pacictuna sheries.”
 Heinz Australia (Owner of theGreenseas tuna brand)
FADSSharks and rays
Sharks and rays are the major non-tuna bycatch victims and are beingkilled in the hundreds of thousands
by tuna shing with purse seinesand FADs.
7
More than 75% of theoceanic pelagic shark and ray species
are classied as threatened or nearthreatened by the peak scientic
organisation for assessing threatenedspecies – the International Union for
the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
 These species are slow to reproduce,making them highly vulnerable tooverexploitation.
8
Being top of thefood-chain, sharks are especially vitalto the marine ecosystem.
Silky sharks and oceanic whitetipsharks make up particularly high levelsof the bycatch in tuna purse seine
sheries.
9
Both are on the IUCN red list.
Cutting ns off sharks, often while they
are still alive and then throwing theshark back in the ocean, is also still in
practice on many tuna shing boats.
©Greenpeace /Hilton
 
©Geenpeace / Hilton
©Geenpeace / Hilton

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