Waitrose stands by Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna, but urges IOTC to reduce catches

Published on
November 5, 2020

United Kingdom supermarket chain Waitrose & Partners will continue to source yellowfin tuna from fisheries in the Maldives and Sri Lanka, but is calling on the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) to adopt a rebuilding plan for the stock.

As previously reported by SeafoodSource, a number of retailers and food companies have announced in recent weeks that they would be reducing the amount of yellowfin tuna that they are sourcing from the Indian Ocean amid concerns about overfishing. According to a statement issued by Waitrose, it would instead be working collaboratively with fishers, suppliers, governments, NGOs and other stakeholders to demand that improvements are made to the fishery’s management.

“It is easy to walk away from a fishery when faced with issues such as the perceived failure of tuna management at an international level, but we believe that is not always the best way to protect fish populations or the communities that depend on them,” it said.

Waitrose also welcomed the “proactive statement” issued by the Government of the Maldives ahead of this month’s IOTC meeting, which advocated for the rebuilding of the yellowfin stock and for more robust shared management.

“We firmly believe that positive actions such as those pledged by the Maldives are critically important in ensuring our oceans are not overfished and communities reliant on these fisheries are safeguarded,” Waitrose said. “We congratulate the Maldives on their commitment to launching a fisheries improvement project (FIP) by December this year and would be happy to lend our support to this work. Additionally, we have supported the Sri Lankan FIP since its inception and congratulate them on the important scope and progress of their work to date.”

Waitrose states that achieving a “truly sustainable fishery” requires cohesive shared management that puts long-term sustainability at its heart. For this reason, it is urging the IOTC to adopt an effective rebuilding plan for yellowfin tuna, including a catch reduction of 25 percent relative to the catch in the year 2017, which would in turn facilitate the recovery of the stock in two generations.

“We can only make sourcing decisions based on science and so we also call on the IOTC to ensure the new yellowfin tuna stock assessment is conducted as soon as possible,” the company said.

The retailer sells fresh yellowfin tuna sourced from the Maldivian and Sri Lankan fisheries.   

Photo courtesy of cornfield/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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