UK tuna retailers back marine reserves in the Pacific

January 11, 2011 14:23

Greenpeace UK has just launched a new tinned tuna sustainability ranking. On top of are Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencer followed by Waitrose, three major retailers that have gone to great lengths to ensure that tuna, sold in their own-brand tins, is as sustainable as possible, reports with reference to Greenpeace.

They all source tuna from pole and line fisheries which are more selective and hence offer a more sustainable way of catching tuna. The more widely used method involves luring them with fish aggregation devices (FADs) and scooping them up indiscriminately with big purse seine nets, killing juvenile tuna. sharks, rays and other marine life in the process.

On Friday, global retail giant Tesco announced that it too would be shifting its entire range over to pole and line.

Ensuring sustainable fisheries is one part of achieving healthy oceans; the other is protecting larger areas of ocean in marine reserves that will include the protection of migratory species like tuna. But progress towards a global network of marine reserves has been too slow.

In the Pacific - where some of the most healthy tuna stocks remain - Greenpeace is fighting to close the international waters surrounding the Pacific Island States (‘Pacific Commons')  to all tuna fishing as a step towards their establishment as the world'd first high seas marine reserve. This is a move that some fishing nations such as Korea, the US and Taiwan have been opposing in the past.

As part of their leadership on tinned tuna sustainability in the UK, Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer have pledged their support for the creation of the Pacific Commons marine reserves and have undertaken not to source any fish from the area in the meanwhile.  ASDA - the UK branch of Walmart - have also made the same pledge.

Support by retailers, restaurants and tuna traders across the world is needed to ensure that the market dries up for tuna coming from the proposed closed areas. This will make it easier for the political negotiations to create marine reserves.

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