john west tuna

John West has come under further pressure this week as Waitrose became the second mult to announce strict new sustainability standards for branded tuna.

Waitrose, which has insisted on pole and line for its own-label canned tuna since 2009, has committed to selling only MSC-certified or pole and line caught branded tuna from the end of 2017.

It is the first supermarket to set a strict deadline on tuna sustainability for the brands, with Tesco setting no timescale for extending its own-label sustainability commitment to branded tuna.

“Sustainability is at the very heart of what we do and we are proud to have such a strong record for ensuring that our own-label tuna is caught in the most responsible way possible,” said Jeremy Ryland Langley, Waitrose’s aquaculture and fisheries manager.

“When they buy a can of own-label tuna, our customers know that they are always buying a product which has been sustainably sourced – and now they will have the same assurance when it comes to buying a branded products.”

Waitrose and Tesco’s new standards apply to all tuna brands, but Greenpeace has made a point of declaring them a victory against John West, which it claims uses “unsustainable” fishing methods.

The campaign group has now turned its focus to Sainsbury’s, calling for a similar commitment on its branded tuna. 

“It’s only right for Sainsbury’s to make the same call. As the second biggest supermarket in the UK they can’t afford to ignore such shoddy behaviour by John West and they should be helping us to move towards a 100% sustainable tuna market here in the UK,” said Hélène Bourges, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK.

Sainsbury’s said it already expected all of its suppliers to take a responsible approach to sourcing. “John West has set out a number of goals to drive up its ­sustainability status by the end of 2018,” a spokeswoman said. “We are monitoring its progress very closely and will maintain an ongoing dialogue.”

John West insists it takes sustainability seriously, and has formed a four-year partnership with WWF- UK, working towards achieving MSC certification for all of its tuna.

“Our MSC-focused sustainability plans are fully aligned with the targets being set by major retailers,” it said. “We are in close and regular contact with our retail partners and have received positive feedback on our partnership with WWF-UK.”