John West, WWF and MSC United for Sustainable Oceans

John West announces Australia's most significant seafood sustainability initiative with Pacifical tuna

Feb 04, 2016, 21:00 ET from John West Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia, Feb. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Imagine a world without fish: John West Australia, WWF-Australia (WWF) and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), today announce that they have come together to make the single biggest brand commitment, to help end unsustainable fishing methods within the canned tuna industry in Australia, thanks to Pacifical, supplied by the world's largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery, controlled by the PNA (Parties to the Nauru Agreement).

The alliance with WWF, Pacifical and MSC is the result of years of the entities working together to find a way to overhaul John West's supply standards within Australia, moving towards a more sustainable future for the world's oceans.

WWF Australia CEO, Dermot O'Gorman, says, "Our oceans are in crisis due to a history of mismanagement by humanity. As a result of a collaborative effort by WWF, Pacifical, MSC and John West, Australians will now see over 100 million cans of clearly labelled Pacifical MSC certified sustainably sourced tuna in supermarkets. The magnitude of this - affecting a huge 43% of Australia's canned tuna - makes this a world first. Sustainability in Australia has just taken a mighty step forward thanks to the leadership of John West Australia."

"MSC is the world's most credible sustainability standard for wild caught fish, a process which requires independent third party auditors to evaluate a fishery's performance against the most robust sustainability standards available globally," O'Gorman said.

The MSC certified skipjack tuna is being sourced from the world's largest sustainable purse seine fishery Pacifical, controlled by the PNA (Parties to the Nauru Agreement). The 8 Pacific Island nations united within the PNA are world leaders in tuna conservation and management with many global firsts such as high seas closures to fishing, observers on 100% of purse seine fishing vessels, fishing day restrictions and the certification of its FAD-Free purse seine skipjack as MSC Sustainable in 2011. 50% of the world's supply of skipjack tuna is controlled by PNA.

Populations of fish species utilised by humans have fallen by half, however Australia's leading tuna brand is confident its position will aid in bringing awareness to the issue on a global scale. 

John West Executive Director – Commercial, Graham Dugdale, says, "In 2012, we pledged that by the end of 2015, John West Australia would only source purse seine caught skipjack tuna caught using independently verified FAD-Free methods. After three years of extensive research, close collaboration with our supply network, Pacifical, MSC and WWF, I am proud to announce that this target has been met and exceeded. Not only are we sourcing FAD free but we have made sure it is MSC certified sustainable and completely traceable from ocean to can."

MSC Asia Pacific Director, Patrick Caleo, says, "This is the largest offering of MSC labelled canned tuna in the world. By completely transforming their supply chain to source from the MSC certified PNA fishery, John West is leading the way to help ensure our oceans stay healthy and teeming with life for generations to come. We are proud to be alongside John West as they make this significant change and congratulate them on this monumental move to help keep our oceans healthy."

"Our commitment extends much further and aims not only to educate, but also ingrain this perspective. We must position ocean sustainability as the 'norm' and only option moving forward," says Dugdale.

Henk Brus, Managing Director of Pacifical and Maurice Brownjohn, Commercial Director of the PNA office jointly state, "We congratulate John West for their commitment and decision to become actively and intensively involved in the trade of their sustainable MSC certified Pacifical Wild Tuna. Safeguarding that this fish is caught in the most responsible, social accountable and ethical way, and ensuring local PNA people benefit to the maximum extend from their own valuable resource, their principal source of income."

2016 will see John West, WWF, Pacifical and MSC continue to lead this groundbreaking movement to ensure our oceans are healthy, forever.

#OurOceansForever

Notes to Editor:

About Pacifical and the PNA

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) controls the world's largest sustainable MSC certified tuna purse seine fishery which is commercialized as Pacifical tuna. PNA Members are: Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Global leaders in tuna conservation and management, many PNA conservation measures are world firsts – such as high seas closures to fishing, protection for whale sharks and the 100% coverage of purse seine fishing vessels with observers.

In 2011, the PNA skipjack tuna caught without using FADs was certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as sustainable, creating the world's largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery. PNA controls around 50% of the global supply of skipjack tuna, the most commonly canned tuna.

The focus of PNA efforts to sustainably manage tuna is the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS). PNA members agree on a limited number of fishing days for the year, based on scientific advice about the status of the tuna stocks. Fishing days are then allocated by country and sold to the highest bidder. In this way, Pacific Islanders reap economic benefits from their sustainable management of tuna.

In order to strengthen its marketing power and expertise PNA chose to joint venture in PACIFICAL c.v with the Netherlands based company Sustunable bv, a company which has been a pioneer in trading responsibly caught tuna since 2007, also by providing full on-line traceability for their tuna products to retailers and it gives consumers a window into the Pacific.

To ensure that Pacifical products meet the highest standards in terms of quality and taste, but also sustainability and social accountability, Pacifical is involved in all elements which are related to the development, catching, processing, distribution and marketing of the product.

About the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international not-for-profit organisation set up to ascertain sustainability within the seafood industry. MSC runs the only certification and ecolabeling program for wild-capture fisheries, consistent with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization Guidelines for the Eco-labeling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries. These guidelines are based upon the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing and require that credible fishery certification and ecolabeling schemes include:

  1. Objective, third-party fishery assessment utilising scientific evidence;
  2. Transparent processes with built-in stakeholder consultation and objection procedures;
  3. Standards based on the sustainability of target species, ecosystems and management practices.

MSC's vision is that seafood supplies are safeguarded for this and future generations. MSC aims to realise its vision by recognising and rewarding sustainable fishing practices, influencing the choices people make when buying seafood and working with its partners to transform the seafood market.

MSC's standard for sustainable fishing is based on three core principles;

  1. Healthy populations of target stock,
  2. Reduced impact on the marine ecosystem (including bycatch and habitat impact)
  3. The effective management processes of the fishery.  

In total, there are currently more than 340 fisheries are engaged in the MSC program with 256 certified and 90 under full assessment. Another 40 to 50 fisheries are in confidential pre-assessment. Together, fisheries already certified or in full assessment record annual catches of close to nine million metric tonnes of seafood. This represents over 10% of the annual global harvest of wild capture fisheries. Certified fisheries currently land over 8.8 million tonnes of seafood annually – close to 10% of the total harvest from wild capture fisheries. Worldwide, more than 17,200 seafood products, which can be traced back to the certified sustainable fisheries, bear the blue MSC ecolabel.

MSC certified fisheries are continually monitored and must complete annual surveillance audits as well as being reassessed every 5 years. More than 570 improvements to fishing practices and environmental management have been identified with fisheries in the MSC program.

The MSC has regional or area offices in London, Seattle, Tokyo, Sydney, Perth, The Hague, Beijing, Berlin, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Halifax, Paris, Madrid, Moscow, Stockholm, Santiago, Sao Paulo, Singapore and Reykjavik. 

About the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) was founded on 29 April 1961 in the small, picturesque Swiss town of Morges, with the basic aim of preserving life on Earth. Over the past 50 years, WWF has developed into the largest and most influential independent conservation organisation in the world, with close to 5 million supporters and a global network encompassing more than 100 countries. WWF has grown from modest beginnings into a truly powerful force for change and has been instrumental in elevating the importance of environmental matters internationally. In addition to funding and managing countless conservation projects throughout the world, WWF continues to:

  • Lobby governments and policy makers;
  • Conduct research;
  • Influence education systems;
  • Work with business and industry to address global threats to the planet by seeking long-term solutions.

As part of a global conservation network, WWF-Australia's work specifically focuses on the environmental issues that are most relevant to its region, as well as the issues where Australia is best placed to take the lead. It works to conserve endangered species, protect endangered places and address global threats to the planet, such as climate change. WWF-Australia's overarching mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature by:

  • Conserving the world's biological diversity;
  • Ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable;
  • Promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

WWF has long recognised that the planet's species, people, habitats, governments and global markets are directly and often delicately interrelated and so understands that meaningful conservation cannot take place without addressing the complex relationships that exist between these elements. As such, WWF unites with brands, such as John West Australia, which share a vision for a more sustainable future. Over the last 3 years, much has been achieved through the WWF and John West Sustainable Seafood Partnership including:

  • John West Australia becoming a signatory to WWF's Global Sustainable Seafood Charter, which commits them to clear objectives to safeguard our valuable marine ecosystems while ensuring the long term viability of seafood supplies;
  • Assessment of almost 50 John West products;
  • Fully operative action plans for all high risk species;
  • Implementation of electronic supply chain management systems to improve traceability;
  • $777,600 dedicated to WWF on-ground conservation projects related to the John West supply chain, which aim to:
  • Improve the livelihoods of coastal fishing communities in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea;
  • Maintain the MSC certification of the Maldives pole-and-line skipjack tuna fishery;

Continued dedication to MSC sourcing and labeling through:

  • Investment in a development model to support the MSC Management Strategy Evaluation process of the Maldives skipjack tuna fishery;
  • Sourcing from the Maldives skipjack tuna fishery;
  • The recent acquisition of MSC tuna from the Western Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO).

This partnership is part of WWF's Market Transformation Initiative to help Australia's leading seafood businesses, such as John West Australia, transition to responsibly sourced seafood and fish oil products, contribute to the long term health of our oceans and encourage others to do the same. Being the first of its kind in Australia, it functions as a strong case study for sustainability leadership on a global scale. Whilst there is still an enormous task ahead for sustainable fisheries in Australia and around the world, there is also an opportunity for leaders like John West Australia who have taken the initiative to heavily invest into their seafood supply chain. As the profile of sustainable seafood becomes increasingly significant in the minds of consumers, those businesses showing leadership in this arena will reap the rewards for their ambitious commitments.

SOURCE John West Australia