Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Major new initiative to put eyes on the water for industrial tuna fisheries, launched by The Nature Conservancy

Walmart, Albertsons Companies, Thai Union, Belize, and the Federated States of Micronesia join the Tuna Transparency Pledge, aiming to achieve 100 percent monitoring of vessels in tuna supply chains by 2027

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Press Release – Arlington, VA, USA – April 10, 2024: Walmart, Albertsons Companies, Thai Union, Belize, and the Federated States of Micronesia, joined as the first signatories of a new global initiative, led by global environmental NGO, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), to address unsustainable and illegal tuna fishing practices. Through the Tuna Transparency Pledge, signatories are aspiring to advance 100 percent on-the-water monitoring across all industrial tuna fishing vessels within their supply chains or jurisdictions by 2027—taking a bold yet achievable step in transforming the health and sustainability of our oceans.

One of the biggest obstacles to sustainably managing global tuna fisheries is the lack of on-the- water data. It is estimated that one in every five fish caught comes from illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing1 and less than 5 percent of longline tuna vessels have an observer on board to independently verify activity2. Without eyes on the water, the vast majority of industrial tuna fishing activities are often left unchecked for compliance with fishery regulations. This results in an unlevel playing field for the many law-abiding fishers around the globe.

“The absence of transparency at sea allows for IUU caught fish to enter the supply chain undetected. We cannot afford to ignore the urgent need for action to protect ocean wildlife and fish stocks, and—in turn—the people they feed and the communities that rely on them,” said Ben Gilmer, Large-Scale Fisheries Director for The Nature Conservancy. “On-the-water monitoring technology is ready to scale today, which helps ensure that the seafood on shelves has been harvested in compliance with fishery laws. The new Tuna Transparency Pledge will help drive market transformation that can help guarantee a long-term and sustainable seafood supply.”

Through the Tuna Transparency Pledge, TNC aims to unite key players across the seafood supply chain—including companies and governments—to help accelerate the adoption of on-the-water monitoring. Electronic monitoring—the use of onboard video cameras, GPS, and sensors to monitor and verify fishing activities—and human observers can strengthen transparency and provide critical data needed for the sustainable management of tuna and other ocean wildlife.

“In many tuna fisheries around the world, independent monitoring of fishing activity is not adequate, making us blind to many known conservation and compliance problems, such as illegal fishing, misreported or unreported catch, and bycatch of endangered, threatened and protected species,” said Daniel Suddaby, Executive Director of the Global Tuna Alliance. “What we can’t see creates risk to fish stocks, fisheries, and companies that purchase tuna. Global Tuna Alliance Partners believe that 100 percent observer coverage, through human and/or electronic monitoring, provides the means to mitigate the conservation and compliance issues that put tuna stocks, ocean ecosystems, and tuna supply chains at risk. We applaud the initial signatories of the Tuna Transparency Pledge for their efforts to address unsustainable and illegal fishing practices within their supply chains and jurisdictions.”

To meet the 2027 target to achieve 100 percent on-the-water monitoring on industrial tuna fishing vessels within supply chains or management jurisdictions, signatories of the Tuna Transparency Pledge aim to:

Implement systems to track and verify progress against the Tuna Transparency Pledge. Where applicable, this includes seeking that vessels register for the Vessels in Other Sustainability Initiatives (VOSI) list, hosted by the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, or an equivalent tracking and verification tool; Develop a credible plan to meet the 2027 target; and Monitor pledge progress through an annual verification process.

To support signatories with the development of timebound and ambitious implementation roadmaps, TNC has outlined a list of tools available to identify, verify and track fishing vessels implementing best practice, such as the VOSI list and the ProActive Vessel Register (PVR).

The Tuna Transparency Pledge was developed by TNC in consultancy with other leading NGOs, retailers, and seafood experts. TNC will work in collaboration with signatories and their NGO partners to track progress and offer support on their rollout and verification procedures.

The Nature Conservancy is seeking sign-ons from other retailers, seafood supply chain organizations, and governments to help drive industry-wide transformation.

In 2021, Thai Union, one of the world’s largest seafood companies, announced its collaboration with TNC to raise the standard of tuna transparency worldwide and implement on-the-water monitoring across its supply chain by 2025. Thai Union remains committed to its 2025 target through the Tuna Transparency Pledge.

Comments from the initial signatories of the Tuna Transparency Pledge:

“At Walmart, our customers and members count on us to deliver products that are more sustainably sourced, including key seafood commodities that provide protein, nutrition and income for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Improving transparency in supply chains is one way to deliver on that—and why in 2023, Walmart C Sam’s Club US asked our tuna suppliers to source exclusively from vessels that have 100 percent observer monitoring (electronic monitoring or human observer) by 2027; and from fisheries using zero high seas transshipment unless the transshipment activity is covered by 100 percent observer monitoring (electronic monitoring or human coverage) by 2027. We applaud The Nature Conservancy, and

the other signatories and hope others will consider joining this work.” — Mikel Hancock, Senior Director, Sustainability, Walmart

“Albertsons Companies is committed to providing our customers with high-quality and traceable seafood from environmentally and socially responsible sources. We are proud to partner with The Nature Conservancy and join the Tuna Transparency Pledge. Together, we can improve the transparency of the tuna supply chain while helping to protect the oceans and treating the people who depend on them for their livelihoods fairly and equitably.” — Anthony Snow, Seafood Director, Albertsons Companies

“As a leader on this issue, we remain committed to increased on-the-water monitoring through TNC’s Tuna Transparency Pledge. This initiative by TNC will be critical in uniting players along the seafood supply chain to catalyze action that will combat and reduce illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) tuna fishing worldwide and improve protection of endangered, threatened, and protected species.” — Tony Lazazzara, Global Director Group Fish Procurement, Thai Union

“We know that the public is increasingly concerned about where their food comes from. As policy makers and stewards of our world’s fisheries resources, we are equally concerned and have the responsibility to ensure that these resources are being sustainably utilized. That’s why we are supporting the Tuna Transparency Pledge, advocating for full transparency in fishing operations to help end illegal, unreported and unregulated tuna fishing. A commitment to 100 percent monitoring of tuna fishing vessels will help combat overfishing and ensure food, climate and economic security around the world.” — Robert Robinson, Deputy Director, Belize High Seas Fisheries Unit

“Transparency in fisheries governance is critical to the future of our ocean. This is what led the Federated States of Micronesia to boldly commit to 100 percent on-the-water transparency in our entire tuna supply chain through the Technology for Tuna Transparency Challenge. Today, we are proud to reaffirm this commitment by joining the Tuna Transparency Pledge. Now is the time for governments around the world to demonstrate their leadership in fisheries management by ensuring that we have eyes on the water to fight IUU fishing and ensure our nations have healthy fisheries for current and future generations.” — Eugene Pangelinan, Fisheries Advisor, Federated States of Micronesia

About the Tuna Transparency Pledge
The Tuna Transparency Pledge is a global initiative led by The Nature Conservancy—with support from a variety of NGO, industry, and governmental collaborators—that aims to achieve 100% on- the-water monitoring (via electronic monitoring and/or human observers) across all industrial tuna fishing vessels. With a vision of a thriving global marine environment that provides stable and sustainable seafood supplies, the Tuna Transparency Pledge was created to guide and unite companies and governments to lay the foundation for a more resilient and transparent tuna supply chain. By signing the Pledge, signatories are aiming to achieve 100% on-the-water monitoring across all industrial tuna fishing vessels within their supply chains or jurisdictions by 2027—taking a bold yet achievable step in transforming the health and sustainability of our oceans.

About The Nature Conservancy:
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

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