Bumble Bee Foods, FCF Fishery Company and Ocean Outcomes have announced a major initiative to improve fishing practices of the albacore longline tuna fisheries in the Indian Ocean and Western and Central Pacific Ocean from which Bumble Bee sources.
“As we procure a significant amount of albacore tuna annually to meet demand for our products, we are in a unique position to help ensure the long term sustainability of longline albacore fisheries,” says Mike Kraft, vice president, sustainability at Bumble Bee. “All of that tuna comes from healthy stocks. This initiative will launch two Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) to help ensure those stocks remain healthy, while working to close identified gaps between current fishery operations and other MSC principles.”
A positive transformation of tuna management and tuna fishing practices is gaining momentum, especially in the purse seine sector, but not all harvesting sectors are as far along. Recent catch sector engagement initiatives—such as the Global FIP Alliance for Sustainable Tuna (GFAST)—have made progress in addressing the challenges of international management of tuna fisheries, but there is clearly an opportunity to increase participation from Northeast Asian longline fleets.
“This bold step by Bumble Bee, FCF and their supplying longline vessels blazes a trail for key tuna catchers to join the sustainable tuna movement,” says Daniel Suddaby, who is leading the project for Ocean Outcomes.
Bumble Bee sources its albacore tuna through FCF, a Taiwanese-founded company that works closely with fishing vessels. FCF, a partner in the initiative, will work with their associated longline fleets toward improved fishing practices.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for FCF to proactively engage the hundreds of tuna vessels we work closely with on a journey toward global best practices,” notes Fong Lee, sustainability officer at FCF.
“We know sustainable tuna fisheries require robust harvest strategies. And we know transparent monitoring of fishery impacts is critical for addressing any negative effects on surrounding ecosystems. These FIPs will work toward both those goals,” adds Suddaby.
As a next step in the initiative, project partners are formalizing both the Indian Ocean Albacore Tuna Longline FIP and the South Pacific Albacore and Yellowfin Tuna Longline FIP to develop workplans and recruit participants.