AFDF takes MSC client duties for salmon

The call for Pacific boat owners to supply Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified skipjack tuna has spread beyond Europe, as Australian grocery store company Coles Supermarkets announced this week it was joining the protest.

Coles joins Switzerland’s Coop, Austria’s SPAR and Denmark’s Dansk companies in urging boat owners operating in waters controlled by Parties of the Nauru Agreement (PNA) to use sustainable practices in fishing skipjack tuna. While the PNA itself recently obtained MSC sustainability certification, many boat owners operating within PNA borders still use unsustainable practices such as fish-aggregating devices, according to Pacifical, the marketing company that sells PNA seafood.

In a statement announcing Coles’ involvement in the issue, Pacifical described fishing companies from other, more industrialized nations, such as Taiwan, Japan, Spain, the United States and Korea, as a big part of the problem.

“The PNA free school purse seine skipjack fishery in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean was certified about a year ago, but the mostly foreign fishermen operating in the area are not motivated to fish sustainably,” Pacifical wrote. “As a result, the fishery is still missing its Chain of Custody (COC) certification and Pacifical tuna — the cobrand for the sustainable skipjack — cannot be delivered to the market. COC is necessary because it ensures the MSC certified catch is kept separate from the non-certified tuna throughout the entire supply chain.”

Coles and the European retailers all have indicated they only want tuna that can be verified as sustainable, which makes it difficult to source from PNA countries.

“We are impressed with the PNA MSC certification and disheartened that, as yet, no MSC-certified skipjack tuna is available for us to purchase,” John Durkan, Coles’ merchandise director, said in a public letter released yesterday.

The European retailers have been making headlines since October by refusing to take tuna from PNA waters unless it can be traced and verified as sustainable. Like those retailers, Coles has indicated the company wants and needs new sources of skipjack tuna, and is urging fishermen in PNA waters to fish more sustainably.

“We presently sell two lines of MSC white albacore tuna caught in the southwest Pacific Ocean off New Zealand and are keen to extend our MSC canned fish offer, as canned tuna is our biggest selling seafood item,” Durkan said. “We urge fishermen, processors and canners handling PNA skipjack tuna to commence fishing in accordance with the MSC chain of custody program to meet our supply demands.”

Coles operates more than 740 stores in Australia, with over 18 million transactions happening every day, and the company has pledged to be only selling sustainably-sourced seafood by 2015.


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