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Seafood stalwarts sign tuna sustainability declaration

Rob Fletcher
Rob Fletcher
06 June 2017, at 12:00am

Fifty major fishing companies, retailers and seafood businesses have signed the Tuna 2020 Traceability Declaration, an initiative led by the World Economic Forum (WEF), which demonstrates a growing momentum within the industry to address the challenge of unsustainable, illegal and destructive tuna fishing.

Global catches of tuna have increased from less than 0.6 million tonnes in 1950 to more than 6 million tonnes in today and, as a result, a third of the world’s tuna stocks are currently overfished.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has commended the signatories – speaking at the announcement of the Declaration at the UN Oceans Conference in New York, Rupert Howes, Chief Executive of the MSC, said: “Ensuring the long-term sustainability of this valuable source of protein, while preserving our oceans, is a global challenge. Governments, NGOs, industry, brands, retailers and consumers all have a role to play. I’m extremely encouraged by the commitment shown today by leading businesses. By signing the Tuna 2020 Traceability Declaration they are sending a strong message of solidarity in eliminating illegal, unreported and unregulated tuna fishing, and ensuring a sustainable future for tuna. I’m also encouraged by the clear commitment to science, effective management and measurable impacts articulated in the declaration.”

“The power of the supply chain in driving change on the water, should not be underestimated,” continued Howes. “I encourage these companies to deliver on this commitment by sourcing tuna from fisheries that meet international standards for best practice in sustainable and responsible fishing. In doing so, they are supporting responsible fisheries, securing their supply of tuna for the future and providing their customers with reassurance that their tuna is sourced responsibly.”

The Tuna 2020 Traceability Declaration includes a pledge from signatories to “work to continually increase [their] sourcing from tuna fisheries certified by schemes that are internationally recognized by the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI).” In March 2017, MSC became the first global sustainable seafood certification program to achieve recognition to the GSSI benchmark, based on UN FAO Guidelines. MSC is currently the only GSSI recognised program to certify tuna products and around 19% (900,000 tonnes) of the global tuna harvest is currently MSC certified.

The MSC has been working actively with WEF to encourage its partners to sign the Tuna 2020 Traceability Declaration. More than half of those to endorse the Declaration are already working with the MSC.