Currently Sealord buys much of its tuna from boats using purse seine nets set on Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) – floating lures that attract far more than adult tuna. This destructive method is globally responsible for catching about 200,000 tonnes of other marine life every year such as sharks, rays, baby tuna and critically endangered turtles, said Greenpeace, which applauded Sealord's decision.
Greenpeace New Zealand Oceans Campaigner Karli Thomas said Sealord's move is an important step towards protecting the marine environment and halting the decline of Pacific tuna stocks, the main source of canned tuna sold in New Zealand.
"This is a real reflection of the changing market reality. Gone are the days of being able to peddle unsustainable tuna that costs the oceans far more than the price on the can," Ms Thomas said.
Sealord's announcement is of great significance to the international Greenpeace campaign for sustainable tuna fishing and means all the big Australasian tuna brands have committed to phase out FAD-caught tuna.
All major tuna brands and retailers in the UK, the world's second largest tinned tuna market, as well as the Safeway supermarket chain in the US have already announced these same changes. Many other retailers and brands around the world are currently making progress to remove FAD purse seine caught tuna from their supply chains.
Greenpeace New Zealand launched a campaign two years ago calling on the country's five big brands of canned tuna to stop destructive tuna fishing. A similar campaign targeting tuna brands in Australia started last year.
In New Zealand, Pams and Fish 4 Ever are now offering New Zealand shoppers FAD-free and more sustainable pole and line caught tuna. Greenseas, John West and Countdown’s own brands will be changing within the next three years.
"We'd like Sealord to make the ban on FADs permanent as any re-introduction will only contribute to overfishing problems in the Pacific," Ms Thomas said.