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Indian Ocean Tuna – sustainability

There is a lot of news today with regard to the sustainability  – or lack of it – of Indian Ocean tuna, following a report by Blue Marine Foundation. rightly raising concerns at the Yellowfin tuna stock levels and overfishing that is taking place


Princes welcomes any focus and attention on the sustainability of tuna but there’s as ever some nuance here that media coverage misses, so here’s a few facts about yellow fin tuna…..

Princes does not deliberately target yellow fin for our brands.

  • Our target species is skipjack. We are not complacent about this stock either but its far more plentiful than yellow fin
  • Yellow fin is the species predominantly used in canned tuna in southern Europe, not the UK
  • Within the UK, yellow fin is most commonly used for fresh and frozen tuna and often vaguely described on pack as “line caught”. Is that pole and line we wonder at Princes or long line ? There’s a huge difference to these methods when it comes to the by catch of non target species.

The purse seine nets Princes uses can catch juvenile yellow fin

  • This is true and we are trying to do something about this with our Fishery Improvement Project (FIP)
  • Its also true of the pole and line method , not something media and NGOs usually acknowledge

Fishery Improvement Projects do not mean sustainable tuna

  • True and we would never claim they do but they do fall into the definition of responsibly sourced as defined by the Sustainable Seafood Coalition’s Code of Conduct.
  • The FIPs we are involved in – that we co fund and takes up resource of our seafood team  on – are credible, time bound and have a clear target to attain MSC certification. Progress on them is also publically available

The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission is not effectively managing the stocks of the Indian Ocean

  • Princes would agree on this and we have used our voice for several years for more effective management, as have our major competitors. Collaboration in this area is key.
  • As well as pushing companies like Princes and Thai Union, NGOs and campaigners need to also turn their attention to the c 50% of the Indian Ocean that is fished by smaller artisanal boats that do not record catch data like the vessels that supply major companies like Princes

For more information on our approach to tuna please visit

David McDiarmid

Corporate Relations Director, Princes Limited

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