Report highlights how tuna fisheries can reduce bycatch

Published on
April 3, 2018

Four environmental organizations have joined forces in an effort to reduce the amount of bycatch produced by longline tuna fishing operations.

In working with Greenpeace, Birdlife International, and The Nature Conservancy, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership released in late March detailing the impact longline practices have on other species. They hope to influence processors and retailers who wish to market sustainable tuna and want to improve the environmental performance of the fisheries who supply them.

In some cases, the species most impacted by longline tuna operations are endangered or vulnerable, such as sharks and sea turtles. Other species that can find themselves entangled in the lines include baleen whales and seals.

“Bycatch is an ongoing problem in the world’s fisheries in general, and longline-caught tuna in particular. This guide serves as a resource for responsible seafood buyers who want to make sure that the seafood at the other end of their supply chains is produced responsibly,” SFP Global Tuna Director Tom Pickerell said.

The report offers a number of best practices commercial operations can utilize in an effort to limit bycatch. For example, using circle hooks can reduce the number of marine mammals ensnared in longlines.

To reduce the shark bycatch, the report encourages the use of finfish instead of squid. Also, the report urges fishermen to set their lines deeper, as sharks often roam closer to the surface.

"The toll that tuna longline fisheries take on threatened species remains a devastating problem that is not being taken seriously enough by companies sourcing from these fisheries," Greenpeace Senior Oceans Campaigner David Pinsky said. "Major tuna industry players like Thai Union have identified bycatch mitigation as a priority area, and we are now urging other tuna buyers to raise their game by moving beyond the circle hook status quo. If companies want to source from longlines they must, at the very least, employ full bycatch mitigation."

SFP was created in 2006 to help rebuild depleted stocks and reduce the environmental impact fishing creates. 

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