Revealed: Australia’s first sustainable tuna in a can

Press release - 9 August, 2011

Sydney, 10 August 2011: Greenpeace has revealed Australia’s first ever sustainable canned tuna range by a major brand today at the launch of its canned tuna ranking at Sydney Aquarium.

Unbeknown to many Australians though, most tuna sold on our supermarket shelves is caught in a way that catches sharks and turtles, and is wiping out threatened tuna species.
“For the first time ever, a major Australian tuna brand, Safcol, has turned its back on destructive fishing methods, switching to 100% pole and line caught tuna,” said Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Nathaniel Pelle.
“This is a massive win for Australian consumers, and reflects the efforts of thousands of Australians that wrote to tuna companies demanding they stop killing sharks and threatened marine life. Thanks to these people we are now able to buy sustainable tuna.”
“We are finally starting to see some big shifts in the $300 million a year tuna market in Australia. But still, the vast majority of our tuna comes from the Pacific where tuna stocks are plummeting. – Nearly half of the fishing is illegal, unregulated or unreported. Australian brands are adding to the problem when they choose destructive fishing methods”.
Safcol, along with Fish4ever, top the ranking, while Woolworths, Sirena and Sole Mare remain the worst choices in terms of sustainability.
With improved policies and practices, Coles moves to third position, but still needs to take significant measures to attain a green ranking.
Earlier this month scientists from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature warned that five out of the eight species of tuna are at risk of extinction.
Shockingly, Sirena continues to base its entire business model around the sale of near threatened yellowfin.
While Woolworth’s has pledged to shift away from yellowfin, it and other popular tuna brands such as John West and Greenseas remain wedded to destructive fishing practices.
John West, Woolworths and Greenseas have all improved their practices since Greenpeace launched the first canned tuna guide, but the majority of their tuna is caught through the use of vast nets called ‘purse seines’ along with Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs)[1], that are not only emptying the oceans of tuna, but wiping out shark populations as collateral damage.
Hundreds of thousands of sharks and other endangered sea creatures such as turtles die unnecessarily each year, caught up in the nets and on the lines of tuna fishing fleets.
“Over 20,000 Australians have written to their favourite brand asking for change, and it is making a difference,” said Pelle. “But these are baby steps compared with other markets such as the UK, where the entire supermarket sector has banned destructive fishing methods. We need to take action before it is too late.”
Greenpeace Australia Pacific: James Lorenz
+61 (0) 400 376 021
[1] FADs are floating objects, often equipped with satellite-linked sonar devices, around which tuna instinctively gather, but which also attract sharks, juvenile tuna and turtles, all scooped up by fishing nets and mostly discarded as waste.