The Co-op Group has reaffirmed its pledge not to sell any own-brand or branded yellowfin tuna in its stores, as concerns around the mismanagement of stocks in the Indian Ocean continue to grow.
The retailer’s announcement comes ahead of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission’s (IOTC) annual meeting in November; the Group has expressed the hope they will address the issue of overfishing.
A report commissioned by the Global Tuna Alliance declared that a 25% reduction in catch levels would be necessary to rebuild the stock within two generations (based on 2017 stock levels).
Cathryn Higgs, head of food policy at the Group, said: “We take our commitments to responsibly sourced fish very seriously and have not stocked yellowfin tuna on our shelves for over seven years. We are concerned that Indian Ocean stocks are not being managed effectively and protocols put in place by the IOTC to improve levels are not being enforced.
“Whilst we know that some fleets are adhering to reduced catch levels, a more strategic recovery plan needs to be agreed by all IOTC member states before we will even consider returning yellowfin tuna to Co-op shelves. We’ll continue to advocate for greater tuna sustainability as part of our role as a founding member of the Global Tuna Alliance.”
In 2017 the Group widened its overall tuna sourcing policy to include branded canned tuna suppliers Princes and John West – outlining that all own-brand and branded tuna must be sourced from fisheries improvement projects (FIPs), which are working towards the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)* standard or MSC certified.
As part of its Future of Food ambition, the Group is committed to protecting key resources and caring for the environments they’re sourced from. It has strict seafood sourcing standards in place to ensure all produce is from well-managed farms and fisheries.