SENA15: Tuna sustainability needs unified voice, says Seafood Watch director

Published on
March 12, 2015

All the NGOs working on tuna sustainability issues need to have a more unified voice, according to Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, director of the Seafood Watch program at Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Kemmerly (pictured) is one the panelists on the “Moving Towards Alignment: Tuna Sustainability” forum at Seafood Expo North America on Sunday, 15 March at 12:30 p.m., along with Dr. Bill Fox, vice president of Fisheries Conservation with the World Wildlife Fund U.S.; Meghan Jeans, director of conservation for the New England Aquarium; and Susan Jackson, president of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF).

Kemmerly doesn’t mind that different groups go about tuna sustainability issues in different ways. For example, Greenpeace recently published a report ranking canned tuna companies while SeafoodWatch often takes a more “measured approach” — but the NGOs need “a more collective voice about what we would like to improve,” she said. “It doesn’t mean we all have to do the exact same thing. We would like to see consistency with the underlying message. What is the call to action to the fishery on what they really need to improve?”

Jackson agreed. In fact, ISSF’s Buyer Engagement Strategy Team (BEST) created a Common Ground document that outlines a consensus related to engaging buyers to support tuna sustainability improvement. NGOs and buyers can build their efforts from the harmonizing Common Ground starting place, she said.

“Sometimes, it is asking the question, ‘I just need to know which tuna to buy,’ or ’ I just want to make sure it is not IUU-fished,’ or ‘I am worried about shark bycatch, what should I do?’ There are definitely ways for people to carve out niches that are important to them, while still at the same time supporting these global tasks that we need to get to,” Jackson said.

One way to provide a unified voice is by joining ISSF. “There is a diversity of people at the table; you have tuna companies and processors as well as members of the NGO community and others,” Kemmerly said.

“Our model is that every voice should be at the table, including government representatives and anyone who touches this issue,” Jackson agreed. However, in the end, the responsibility falls to the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) to implement sustainable measures. 

“RFMOs’ processes need to be transparent, member countries need to make sure the RFMO science bodies have the science they need. They also have to go back home, pass national legislation and enforce it,” Jackson said.

Contributing Editor



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