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New Zelaand’s tuna stocks and other ocean life are being threatened by the fishing methods used to fill Sealord tuna cans, according to Greenpeace.

Greenpeace on Wednesday launched a public campaign in downtown Auckland urging Sealord to clean up its act and become a market leader in sustainability for canned tuna sold in New Zealand. A video released on the Greenpeace website reveals the contents of future Sealord tuna cans if the company does not change its tuna.

“Sealord must stop buying tuna for its canned products from companies using fishing methods which kill endangered sharks, turtles, juvenile tuna and other ocean species,” says Greenpeace New Zealand Oceans Campaigner Karli Thomas.

Sealord, and other New Zealand brands of canned tuna, buy tuna which is caught using purse seine nets combined with fish aggregation devices (FADs).

“FADs are like marine death traps as they attract all sorts of ocean life, not just tuna, making the bycatch of purse seine fisheries up to 10 times higher than other more sustainable methods. This is threatening tuna stocks in the Pacific and the health of the ocean.”

“Sealord promote themselves as ‘the seafood experts’ but there’s nothing smart about catching everything in the ocean then throwing back what you don’t want, injured, dead or dying. That’s exploitation, not expertise.”

Last week Sealord announced it was updating its branding.

“Sealord needs to change more than just its logo. We’re urging Sealord to change its tuna and move to more sustainable fishing methods, ending its trade in tuna caught by purse seines with fish aggregation devices. Without this commitment Sealord is not serious about sustainability.”

Over the last month more than 7500 concerned consumers have emailed New Zealand’s five main canned tuna brands asking them to ‘change your tuna’. Pams, the brand owned by supermarket chain Foodstuffs, has indicated that it is starting to take steps to offer consumers a sustainable option by introducing a pole and line caught range of canned tuna by the end of the year. It has also said it was “actively investigating” alternative options to FAD-caught tuna.

“This is an encouraging step in the right direction and follows what’s happening in overseas markets,” says Thomas.

All but one of the UK’s major canned tuna brands have announced they will stop using tuna caught by purse seiners using FADs.(3)

“Sealord and the other New Zealand brands must do the same.”

Until recently the Pacific had the world’s last healthy tuna fisheries. These are now under threat as industrial fishing fleets, which have exhausted tuna stocks in other oceans, are concentrating their efforts in the Pacific.

All Pacific tuna stocks are in decline. Bigeye and yellowfin are the most at risk. Scientists have advised that fishing needs to be cut by up to 50% to allow bigeye tuna to recover. Skipjack, the most common species used in canned products, is also under pressure.

Greenpeace is campaigning globally to create a more sustainable and equitable fishing industry and a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans – necessary steps to creating healthy, living oceans.

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