According to the article in Scoop (300 million+ Yellowfin tuna in Western Central Pacific); fisheries scientists find Yellowfin Tuna stocks are in good shape in the WCPO.
Science from the experts in the Western Pacific shows Yellowfin stocks in the area Sealord sources its tuna are at healthy levels.
According to Stu Yorston (General Manager of Marketing at Sealord), there is confusion about Sealord Yellowfin tuna which is not fished in New Zealand but from a healthy stock with more than 300,000,000 fish.
“The fisheries data shows Yellowfin stocks are healthy – there are hundreds of millions of fish in the area. The experts are warning though, that there should not be increased fishing of this stock in this area. Sealord understands this. We have reduced the amount of Yellowfin tuna used in our products and around 84% of Sealord tuna is made from Skipjack, the region’s most abundant stock.”
“So people who enjoy Yellowfin should continue to eat it – we are sourcing it carefully and working closely with the experts to understand any changes or concerns.”
Jumping yellowfin tuna. Photo by Bradford Martin
As many of you may remember, Sealord has been the brunt of a lot of Greenpeace sensationalism.
This Greenpeace attention, unfortunately is primarily driven from the undeniable fact that Sealord are the only seafood company in New Zealand that is involved in the canning of tuna… for this they have become a target and a symbol of fisheries malpractice.
This could not be any further from actual reality… But hthen it is Greenpeace we are talking about here.
Sealord’s responsible and sustainable sourcing practices and policies
Over the years Sealord have initiated a number of formal commitments to adhere to both a sustainable and a responsible sourcing policy. They deserve our support.. because supporting responsible and sustainable sourcing helps set global best practice… doesn’t it?
The rationale [as I see it anyway] is this …
If companies that develop and implement responsible and sustainable sourcing practices and policies, receive reward from the market in the way of product sales, ahead of other companies who have not introduced equivalent practices and policies… Those other companies, in order to attain sufficient market share will also have to institute those responsible and sustainable sourcing practices and policies. Eventually it will be the norm to source responsibly and sustainably – This is how best practice is set…
So rather then obliterating Sealord yellowfin tuna or any other other kinds of tuna from your shopping regimen, simply because Greenpeace has told you to, you should deliberately add it… and be vociferous – You are doing it because Sealord have undertaken to source responsibly.
Part of Sealord’s responsible sourcing approach is it’s commitment to reduce bycatch to no more than 1% of catch by 2015. Sealord is trialling FAD-free Yellowfin from July this year, as one of the ways of achieving this. When catch and by-catch information becomes available, it will select the best fishermen, and whether they use FADs or are FAD-free.
New Zealanders eat less than 0.5% of the world’s canned tuna, which is why Sealord works with groups such as the International Sustainable Seafood Foundation (ISSF) to increase its influence on this massive market.
According to Stu Yorston:
“Being a member of the ISSF means we can punch above our weight and benefit from the combined influence of the world’s largest group of industry, environment groups and scientists.”
Sealord has also recently signed the WWF Tuna Conservation WWF Tuna Pledge.
Sealord also launched the first New Zealand tuna that has the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) eco-label. For more information here please see my posts in this blog:
Stu Yorston succinctly sums up Sealord’s sustainable sourcing approach:
“Our commitment is to source tuna from the best fishermen in the world and we know we will have to continue making improvements. Sourcing overfished stocks is not the way our people operate.”
State of Yellowfin Stocks in the Western Central Pacific Ocean
According to the WCPFC Stock Assessment of Yellowfin Tuna In The Western And CentralPacific Ocean:
8. For the most plausible range of models, the fishing mortality based reference point Fcurrent /~FMSY is estimated to be 0.56 –0.90 and on that basis conclude that overfishing is not occurring. The corresponding biomass based reference points Bcurrent/~BMSY and SBcurrent/~SBMSY are estimated to be above 1.0 (1.25 – 1.60 and 1.34 – 1.83, respectively) and, therefore, the stock is not in an overfished state. The stock status indicators are sensitive to the assumed value of steepness for the stock-recruitment relationship. A value of steepness greater than the default value (0.95) yields a more optimistic stock status and estimates considerably higher potential yields from the stock. Conversely, for a lower (0.65) value of steepness, the stock is estimated to be approaching the MSY based fishing mortality and biomass thresholds.
9. The western equatorial region accounts for the most of the WCPO yellowfin catch. In previous assessments, there have been concerns that the stock status in this region (region 3) might differ from the stock status estimated for the entire WCPO. A comparison between the results from the WCPO models and a model encompassing only region 3 yielded very similar results, particularly with respect to stock status. Nonetheless, there appear to be differences in the biological characteristics of yellowfin tuna in this region that warrant further investigation.
10. The estimates of MSY for the principal model options (480,000 – 580,000 mt) are comparable to the recent level of (estimated) catch from the fishery (550,000 mt). Further, under equilibrium conditions, the predicted yield estimates (YFcurrent) are very close to the estimates of MSY indicating that current yields are at or above the long-term yields available from the stock. Further, while estimates of current fishing mortality are generally below FMSY, any increase in fishing mortality would most likely occur within region 3 — the region that accounts for most of the catch. This would further increase the levels of depletion that is occurring within that region.
The International Sustainable Seafood Foundation (ISSF) (Referred to in the Scoop article) summarised the stock assessment in the ISSF Stock Status Ratings Report (Status of the World Fisheries for Tuna (ISSF Technical Report 2012-04B | December, 2012))
The last yellowfin assessment was conducted in 2011 and reviewed by SC7. While the model was similarto the previous (2009) assessment, there were revisions to various data sets (e.g. longline CPUE indices, catch and size data, purse-seine catch and size data, and the modeling of the Indonesian and Philippines domestic fisheries).
The results were generally more pessimistic than those from the previous assessment and indicated that (Figure WCPO-6):
- The yellowfin stock is not in an overfished state as spawning biomass is above the BMSY level (Bcurrent/BMSY = 1.47, range between 1.14 and 1.92).
- The ratio Fcurrent/FMSY is estimated to be 0.77 (range between 0.54 and 1.15), indicating that overfishing is not occurring.
- MSY is estimated to be 538,800 (range 432,000-645,000) tonnes.
- The optimistic estimate of overall stock status should be tempered by the patterns estimated at a sub-regional level. The western equatorial Pacific, from which most of the catches are taken, is at least fully exploited with no potential for a substantial increase in catches to be sustainable.
Figure WCPO-6. Temporal trend in the ratios Bcurrent/BMSY (x-axis) and Fcurrent/FMSY (y-axis) for yellowfin tuna in the WCPO, 1952-2010. The white dot represents the current (2006-2009) situation. Colors are taken from WCPFC reports and do not necessarily correspond to the colors used for ratings in the ISSF Stock Status Report (ISSF Stock Status Ratings Report (Status of the World Fisheries for Tuna (ISSF Technical Report 2012-04B | December, 2012))
So as you can see… Sealord are ‘bang on’… Yellowfin in the WCPO are not only managed well, they are within management targets.