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Sealord signs WWF Tuna Pledge, commits to bycatch below 1%

Media release from Sealord Group Ltd

Sealord signs WWF Tuna Pledge and commits to bycatch below 1%

Evidence of the lowest bycatch using information from every catch will help ensure New Zealand’s most popular tuna brand offers consumers even more sustainable seafood products.

Sealord has also become the country’s first signatory of the WWF’s Western Central Pacific Tuna Conservation Pledge which brings together brands, harvesters and manufacturers focused on ensuring tuna fishing is well managed.

"WWF welcomes Sealord’s decision to sign the WWF Tuna Conservation Pledge and their support for targeted conservation measures that reduce bycatch in their supply chain,” says Alfred Cook, WWF’s Western Central Pacific Tuna Programme Officer

Sealord General Manager Stu Yorston says that the company wanted to back up the signing of the WWF Tuna Pledge with a measurable target.

“Sealord’s aim is to see non-tuna bycatch reduced to no more than one percent of total catch by 2015,” he said.

The company plans to buy Sealord tuna only from the best performing fishermen in the Western Central Pacific, based on catch data from each trip.

While this information is not currently available, collection of data is continuously improving and Sealord will make use of tools, including the ISSF (International Seafood Sustainability Foundation) Proactive Vessel Register, to track an individual vessel’s fishing practices.

“This will improve our ability to tell our customers exactly what is being done by each vessel to reduce environmental impacts and keep the fishery healthy.”

“We are not as hung up on catching methods as some other companies are; our focus is on sustainability. Where the catch data from specific trips shows FAD-free fishing provides the best result, then we will buy FAD-free, if selective fishing using FADs provides better results then we will buy from those fishers,” said Yorston.

Through its continued partnership with ISSF, Sealord will also work to better understand other potential issues such as impacts of fishing small tuna.

“New Zealanders eat less than 0.5% of the global tuna catch but by working with the ISSF, with its 22 global industry members and huge network of conservation groups and scientific advisers, we can help ensure practical improvements are made to tuna fishing.”

This new approach follows the recent introduction of New Zealand’s first MSC certified tuna, Sealord Albacore, which is caught off the West Coast of South Island.

The MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) are world leaders in wild-capture fishery certification, with the most trusted, recognised and credible seafood ecolabel.

By moving a significant number of its ranges to Skipjack over the last 18 months, Sealord has also ensured the bulk of its tuna is sourced from the Western Central Pacific’s most plentiful stock.

"Sealord’s people take our responsibility to the sea very seriously and the future of our business depends on providing great tasting sustainable seafood. This latest initiative shows our commitment to do this,” said Yorston.


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