U.S. tuna companies to aid sea turtles

The United States’ “Big Three” tuna companies will collaboratively pledge USD 100,000 (EUR 69,325) annually for sea turtle conservation efforts in an initiative to be run through the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF).

“We’re happy to help industry put its money to work for the health of marine life,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson. “Turtles are fantastic sea creatures that are unfortunately facing an uncertain future.”

ISSF founding members Chicken of the Sea, StarKist and Bumble Bee are studying a range of projects from protecting turtle nesting habitats to providing circle hooks to funding research into turtle bycatch mitigation. Details about the project, which will focus on the longline tuna industry, are currently being finalized. 

“Industry must take a lead role in the stewardship of our oceans,” said Chris Lischewski, president and CEO of Bumble Bee Foods, who also serves as chair of ISSF.

In U.S. waters, all seven species of sea turtles are endangered or threatened. While pollution and shrinking habitat are among the many problems, the animals can also become the unintended catch of fishing vessels.

“There is a science-based need to protect sea turtles and whether the problem is pollution or fishing, the form of the threat to ocean life doesn’t dictate our response,” said Lischewski. “We respect the delicate balance in marine ecosystems and part of industry’s role must be to support conservation initiatives that can help maintain that balance or rebuild where it’s been weakened.”

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