UK retailer refusing to sell yellowfin tuna until overfishing is addressed
United Kingdom retailer Co-op has pledged not to sell any own-brand or branded yellowfin tuna in its stores until stocks in the Indian Ocean are managed sustainably.
The announcement comes ahead of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission’s (IOTC) annual meeting in November, which Co-op hopes will address the issue of overfishing.
“We take our commitments to responsibly sourced fish very seriously and have not stocked yellowfin tuna on our shelves for over seven years. We are concerned that Indian Ocean stocks are not being managed effectively and protocols put in place by the IOTC to improve levels are not being enforced,” Co-op’s head of food policy, Cathryn Higgs, said. “Whilst we know that some fleets are adhering to reduced catch levels, a more strategic recovery plan needs to be agreed by all IOTC member states before we will even consider returning yellowfin tuna to Co-op shelves.”
Higgs said Co-op would continue to advocate for greater tuna sustainability as part of its role as a founding member of the Global Tuna Alliance.
According to a report commissioned by the alliance, based on 2017 stock levels, a 25 percent reduction in catch levels is necessary to rebuild the yellowfin stock within two generations.
In 2017, Co-op widened its overall tuna sourcing policy to include branded canned tuna suppliers Princes and John West – outlining that all own-brand and branded tuna must be sourced from fisheries improvement projects (FIPs), which are working toward the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard or MSC certified.
Last month, Tesco warned that it would stop sourcing Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna and billfish for its Own Brand products if the IOTC fails to implement a recovery plan at next month’s meeting.
In its yellowfin tuna pledge, it states that the Indian Ocean stock is not being managed successfully due to the mix of coastal states and distant water fishing nations failing to adopt catch reduction measures proposed by IOTC’s scientists.
Last year, Tesco elected to freeze its volumes of tuna and billfish from the Indian Ocean. It also joined other retailers and NGOs to call for the catch reductions recommended by the IOTC’s scientists to be put in place and commit to an effective rebuilding plan.
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