John West owner Thai Union and canned food giant Princes have teamed up with fishing bodies and WWF UK to launch a pole and line tuna fishery improvement project off the coast of Senegal.
The scheme aims to improve the practices of 10 pole and line tuna fishing vessels sailing from Dakar, Senegal, with the ultimate aim of preparing the fishery for Marine Stewardship Council certification.
Fish caught in the fishery are widely sold in the UK, largely through supermarket own-label canned tuna ranges.
The FIP will focus on three key areas: ensuring healthy fish stocks; minimal and mitigated impact on ecosystems; and effective management.
It will cover individual, pole and line catches of skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna and their bait stock. Participants will also work closely with the fishing authorities of Senegal to improve the governance of fisheries in the region.
“The world’s fisheries are under more pressure than ever before, but we can find solutions if the seafood industry works together with authorities and NGOs,” said Clarus Chu, seafood manager for WWF UK.
“The establishment of the Senegal pole and line FIP shows leadership and initiative from producers and vessel owners in the Senegal pole and line tuna fishery. This project must be used to develop stock, ecosystem and management improvements that create a sustainable future for tuna in the region,” Chu added.
The move was welcomed by Princes corporate relations director David McDiarmid, who said the FIP was “an important component in reaching our responsible sourcing targets” which built on the supplier’s experience of developing and progressing a similar, but larger scheme in the Indian Ocean.
Meanwhile, Tony Lazazzara, group fisheries, sustainability and European fish procurement director at Thai Union, said: “By supporting FIPs, we aim to help conserve marine ecosystems and protect the livelihoods of the millions of people who depend on them. We have made significant progress against Thai Union’s ambitious global tuna commitment, and the new Senegal FIP further reinforces our commitment to sustainable tuna.”