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The Inconvenient Truth of Canned Tuna

GREENPEACE MEDIA RELEASE

The Inconvenient Truth of Canned Tuna

Amsterdam, November 24, 2010. The first independent, public genetic tests by Greenpeace into the contents of tinned tuna brands has uncovered evidence of the tuna industry’s complete disregard for both consumers and the future sustainability of tuna stocks in the region [1].

Numerous notable inconsistencies were discovered [2], including several instances of two different species appearing in the same tin – an illegal practice in the EU [3] prompting Greenpeace to call for a complete ban on fish aggregation devices (FAD’s).

Greenpeace has identified the use of FADs as the main factor for both the mixing of species and the inclusion of juvenile tuna of species being overfished.

“There is no other option, if vulnerable tuna species such as Bigeye tuna are to be safeguarded from being overfished then nations meeting at the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in December must implement a complete ban on FAD fishing with purse seine nets in the Pacific, ” said Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner Duncan Williams.

Employed in combination with purse seine nets, FADs are man-made floating objects that attract not only juvenile tuna, but also turtles, endangered and vulnerable sharks species such as whale and silky sharks, which are regularly netted as by catch.

“The Pacific supplies well over half the world's tuna, 77 percent of which is caught through the highly destructive, indiscriminate and unsustainable purse seine fisheries. The results of the genetic test shows that purse seine caught fish include multiple species of tuna including yellowfin and bigeye tuna - a species significantly overfished in the Pacific and is vulnerable to endangerment [4][5].

The tests also found an erratic inclusion of different species in various tins of the same product, while other tins contained species that differed to what was claimed on the label.

“Consumers in Europe and the US are inconspicuously eating threatened species of tuna without knowing they are contributing to their extinction and sealing the fate for us Pacific Islanders whose livelihoods depend on healthy fish stocks,” said Mr Williams.

The tests, carried out by Spanish marine research laboratory AZTI Tecnalia [6], analysed canned tuna products from Austria, Australia, Greece, Netherlands, NZ, Canada, Spain, Italy, US, UK, Switzerland and Germany, testing at least five different tuna brands from each country.

ENDS

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