After four years of working closely with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and WWF-SASSI, Woolworths has succeeded in securing an MSC-certified source of canned tuna, caught using the pole-and-line catch method, for its Woolworths branded canned tuna range. This latest Fishing for the Future milestone is particularly ground-breaking as versatile canned tuna is very much a household staple in many South African homes.
The retailer’s Fishing for the Future initiative is an on-going drive to meet various sustainability goals for the wild-caught and farmed seafood it sells. Canned tuna has been a particular challenge as only 16% of the entire world’s tuna catch has met the certification requirements of the MSC. All Woolworths’ branded canned tuna products are now prepared with MSC certified tuna caught in the Indian Ocean territory of the Maldives by local community fishers using only the traditional pole-and-line technique.
Currently there is no commercially available skipjack tuna in South African waters and there are not sufficient amounts of other tuna species for commercial canning. Consequently, there is no local tuna canning facility to source from.
Michael Marriott, MSC’s South Africa Manager says, “We congratulate Woolworths on the launch of South Africa’s first certified sustainable canned tuna. We are well-aware that their journey to achieve this milestone has entailed considerable determination, effort and engagement with the various tuna industry stakeholders and regional fishery organisations.”
The MSC is a global non-profit body which works to address unsustainable fishing and helps to safeguard seafood stocks for future generations. MSC certification is an assurance of sustainable and transparent fishing practices, and ensures traceability from fishing boat to store.
Pole-and-line, also known as ‘one-by-one’, is a highly selective and traditional way to catch tuna. A particular hook size is used to ensure that the undersized immature fish, which haven’t yet had a chance to breed, can’t be caught. This catch method also virtually eliminates the by-catch of other species, such as sharks, sea turtles and dolphins.
“Woolworths is taking its customers on an important stage of its Fishing for the Future journey,” comments Martin Purves, Managing Director of the International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF). “Supporting small, one-by-one fisheries is the sustainable way to secure high quality, responsible and ethically caught tuna. It is fantastic to see one of South Africa’s leading retailers making such a huge commitment to this sustainable tuna fishing practise.”
Through this Maldivian source of tuna, the Woolworths customer will be supporting an important fishing community which act as custodians of the ocean environment that their livelihood depends on.
“We are delighted to be able to offer our customers MSC certified canned tuna, says Spencer Sonn, Woolworths Managing Director of Foods. “We are all concerned about the impact of fishing on the oceans and want the power to make better choices. The MSC certification is our assurance to our customer that the canned tuna their family enjoys is sourced from a fishery with healthy stocks and caught using environmentally-friendly methods that don’t impact adversely on other marine species or the ocean environment.”
To see exactly how the Woolworths MSC canned tuna is caught in the Maldives view:
To celebrate Woolworths’ MSC certified canned tuna milestone customers have the opportunity to win an 8 day / 7 night luxury holiday for two in the Maldives to the value of
R 150 000. The lucky winner and their partner will be treated to an idyllic stay at The Residence, a secluded retreat on Falhumaafushi, a pristine island in the Gaafu Alifu Atoll. The prize includes economy class international and internal flights, airport transfers, seven night’s accommodation, breakfast and dinner daily, and a complimentary Maldivian cookery class. To enter, purchase any Woolworths branded MSC certified pole and line caught canned tuna, swipe your MySchool or Woolworths card at the till point, then sms ‘tuna’ and your card number to 43858. Competition closes 28 May 2017. T’s and C’s apply.