Bycatch- the tuna industry’s dirty little secret- Green peace article..

Posted on October 22nd, 2011 in Beach Clean-up,Food,From You-Articles/Tidbits/Gems by Kate Wade

Hi there DB Green,

Here’s an article passed onto me from Angie. I noted the other day when buying some tuna that I could only find one brand of  tuna at Welcome that I felt I could buy- it was B&F and it says the tuna is skipjack tuna which is currently acceptable. Other brands were too vague or actually admitted using yellowfin tuna which is decreasing in numbers and is considered a type to avoid by Greenpeace. Some said they used good fishing methods but didn’t say what that was or who it was good for. Have a look at the writing on the sides of your cans next time- it’s not always about price- sometimes you need to vote with your purse. In the case of B&F it was pretty much the same price as the others though I don’t know what their fishing methods are.

Cheers, Kate


Aussies love canned tuna, but our appetite for it is having a devastating impact.

tuna bycatch greenpeace

Most if not all of the commercial tuna species are now exploited at unsustainable long-term levels after only a few decades of industrial fishing.

Less well-known is the effect tuna fishing is having on other species. As a result of wasteful fishing methods, our tuna catch is causing the widespread death of endangered and threatened marine animals – including sharks, rays, dolphins and turtlas – known collectively as ‘bycatch.’

In tuna purse seine fisheries using Fish Aggregation Devices, or FADs (floating objects, often equipped with satellite tracking, used to attract tuna) for every 10kg catch, up to 1 kg is bycatch and a further 2kg is juvenile tuna – meaning that it is too young to reproduce.

This bycatch is the tuna industry’s dirty little secret.

Greenpeace’s 2011 canned tuna ranking revealed that 8 out of 10 Australian brands continue to source tuna using purse seine nets with FADs resulting in high levels of bycatch. Only one major brand – Safcol – has dropped this practice fully by switching to 100 per cent pole and line caught tuna.

On October 13 2011 we launched our latest oceans report – What a waste: the hidden cost of canned tunaon Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach with a little help from our friends at Bondi Rescue. At the launch, one of Australia’s largest canned tuna brands – Greenseas – announced it will commit to going FAD free by 2015.

What a waste: the hidden cost of canned tuna

In the UK all supermarkets and all major tuna brands have announced they will no longer source tuna caught with purse seines and FADs, making the UK the world’s most sustainable tuna market.

The solution to reducing canned tuna’s bycatch is simple. The first and most urgent step is to ban the use of FADs in purse seine fisheries. Doing so would, at a stroke, reduce this bycatch by up to 90%.

We have a choice. Either we force our favourite brands to change the way they source their fish, or we face the real possibility that our children will be the last generation to have tuna in their sandwiches.

Take action

Tell Australian tuna brands and supermarkets to change their tuna


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