Sales of certified sustainable tuna have more than doubled in the last five years, according to a report published by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to mark 2nd May as World Tuna Day.
According to the MSC, more than 54,000 tonnes of tuna were sold with the globally recognised blue MSC label in 2018/19, compared with 21,500 tonnes in 2015/16. The figures for 2019/20 are expected to be even higher.
The rapid increase in global sales of MSC labelled sustainable tuna is attributed to transformations within the fishing sector, 28% of global tuna catches now certified to the MSC’s standards for sustainable fishing, compared with 14% in 2014. These changes are seen as having been driven by increasing retailer and consumer demand.
With the coronavirus pandemic leading to a recent surge in demand for canned tuna, the MSC is urging both producers and consumers to continue their commitment to sustainable tuna. Published to mark World Tuna Day on Saturday 2nd May, the MSC’s Tuna Handbook provides a comprehensive guide to sourcing sustainable tuna.
‘Over the past few months, many families will not have been able to visit or see the ocean – an inspiration and wonder to us all,’ said Bill Holden, the MSC’s global tuna expert.
‘But the good news is, that even in these difficult times, consumers can continue to make a difference by choosing sustainably sourced seafood. Although tuna is one of the world’s most widely consumed and popular fish, the reality is that around a third of tuna stocks remain in a fragile state. By buying tuna with the blue MSC label, shoppers are playing their part in ensuring tuna stocks are secured for future generations.’
The volume of tuna caught to the MSC’s globally recognised standard for sustainable fishing more than doubled from 700,000 tonnes in 2014 to 1.4 million tonnes in September 2019. There are now 29 MSC certified tuna fisheries, compared with just eight in September 2014.
Behind these changes are more than two hundred companies which trade MSC certified sustainable tuna sold in 41 countries. This includes global multi-nationals responsible for some of the world’s largest tuna brands including John West (Australia, owned by Simplot); Petit Navire, Chicken of the Sea and Genova (owned by Thai Union); and Rio Mare (owned by Bolton Food). Retailers also leading the way include Sainsbury’s, MIGROS, Albert Heijn, Lidl and Aldi.
As well as providing a high protein, low-fat, versatile way of eating fish as part of a healthy diet, tuna has a huge social and economic value. The global tuna market is worth more than US$42 billion annually, and more than six million people are employed within the tuna industry in the Asia-Pacific region alone.
The MSC states that globally 65% of tuna stocks are considered to be in a healthy state, with 17.5% overexploited and a further 17.5% at an intermediate level.