Co-op Group and Waitrose tighten ethical sourcing policies for tuna

The Co-op Group has announced a tougher policy on the sourcing of tuna as part of its commitment to sustainable fishing. Cathryn Higgs, head of food policy, said...

The Co-op Group has announced a tougher policy on the sourcing of tuna as part of its commitment to sustainable fishing.

Cathryn Higgs, head of food policy, said on the Group’s blog pages, “As well as being pole and line caught, our tuna comes from Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries or those part of a fisheries improvement project (FIP).

“We’ve extended this policy to include all branded canned tuna, meaning branded canned tuna stocked in Co-op Food has to be in a fisheries improvement project by the end of the year.”

The move comes amid growing concern over the sustainability of the world’s fishing stocks, with the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation warning this month: “Only 11 of 19 major commercial tuna stocks are being managed to avoid overfishing and restore depleted fish populations.”

The sustainable fishing schemes followed by the Group are independently checked, and bring together the fishing industry, researchers and non-government organisations to ensure fish stocks are sustainably managed and fisheries do not negatively impact the marine environment.

Ms Higgs added: “Our members and customers are rightly concerned about fish stocks and the methods used to catch fish. We’ve been a leader in sustainable tuna sourcing but have now extended our commitments.

“We are also setting out clear expectations for branded tuna suppliers because of concern from our customers and members about protecting tuna fisheries for future generations.”

She said the Group is “extending these expectations to the brands we stock too.”

Leading tuna suppliers Princes and John West have made similar commitments.

Paul Reenan, managing director of John West, said: “We welcome the Co-op’s extended tuna commitment which mirrors that of John West, and we are pleased to confirm that all of our supply to the Co-op will meet its new sustainability commitments and deadline.

“Through our investment in fisheries improvement projects, which aims to bring fisheries up to the standard required for MSC certification, we are focused on increasing the supply of sustainable tuna for retailers and consumer alike.”

Ruth Simpson from Princes said: “Achieving long-term tuna sustainability is an ongoing priority for our business. Since July 2016, we’ve had a public commitment to sourcing our tuna from fisheries that are Marine Stewardship Council certified or in a fishery improvement project.”

Related: Our view: how co-ops can stop the exploitation of workers

Waitrose, part of the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership, has also made a commitment to responsible sourcing, pledging that all its tuna must be sustainable by the end of 2017.

It says all tuna sold in its branches must be line-and-pole caught or MSC-certified.

Aquaculture and fisheries manager Jeremy Ryland Langley said: “Sustainability is at the heart of what we do and we are proud to have such a strong record for ensuring that our own-brand tuna is caught in the most sustainable way possible.

“Our customers will now have the same assurance when it comes to buying a name-branded product.”

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