We did it! Australia will soon become the second market in the world after the UK to virtually abolish the most destructive tuna fishing methods.
Supermarket giant Aldi has this week agreed to end its destructive tuna fishing. Following our campaign against the biggest tuna brand in Australia, John West, every major supermarket that hadn’t already made a pledge to catch its tuna responsibly followed within weeks.
This is big news for the thousands of sharks, threatened tuna species, turtles and other marine life killed every year by harmful Fish Attracting Devices (FADs). At the same time, fisheries in the Pacific Ocean can finally breathe a sigh of relief knowing that far fewer foreign owned industrial fishing vessels will use destructive fishing methods in their oceans.
Too many boats, too few fish
The bigger problem behind irresponsible tuna fishing is the massive expansion of industrial fishing globally. Every year, more and more industrial scale vessels from the big fishing powers like Korea, USA, Taiwan, European Union and China come to the Pacific - which supplies over 60% of the world’s tuna.
Some of these vessels like the Albatun Tres are monsters that can catch as much in a single trip as some Pacific Island countries catch in a whole year.
Above: Activists deploy a banner reading "No Fish No Future" next to the Albatun Tres, the world's second biggest tuna fishing vessel, known as a super super seiner. The ship can take 3000 tonnes of tuna in a single fishing trip which is almost double the annual catch of some Pacific island countries. © Greenpeace / Paul Hilton
Pacific Island countries only receive a tiny 6-9% of the $4 billion value of their tuna. But fisheries in these countries are fighting back. They have set up a joint venture to meet the demand in Europe and Australia for FAD-free tuna. Pacific Islanders are increasingly looking to use sustainable locally-owned models like the Maldives pole and line fishery.
Whether it’s the famed and endangered Bluefin (also known as ‘Porsche of the Sea’) or the more humble and plentiful Skipjack, tuna is eaten everywhere. Prestigious restaurants in Tokyo, London, New York, Sydney and Melbourne serve up Bluefin sushi for as much as $50 a bite. Two decades ago, Bluefin was plentiful enough to be canned. If something isn’t done soon to stop the use of FAD fishing altogether, Yellowfin and Bigeye could become endangered too.
We did this together
None of this happens without consumers demanding change. Over 50,000 Australians have sent messages since October last year to tuna companies demanding destructive fishing end. Together we made the message loud and clear. Now, Pacific fisheries and the tuna population just might have a fighting chance.
Above: Greenpeace activists dressed in shark suits with a giant tuna can reading "John's Waste" and a banner reading "John West Slashes Ocean Stocks", occupy the roof of John West's headquarters in Cheltenham, as part of a Greenpeace campaign to expose the company's destructive fishing practices. © Jesse Marlow / Greenpeace