Making sure that we source our fish in a way that protects fish stocks and the marine environment is extremely important to us. This is why we work closely with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) – the world’s leading certification body for wild-caught seafood, and consult regularly with other leading marine conservation NGOs.
Since 2016, we have increased our range of MSC ecolabelled products to over 100, and we were awarded MSC Fish Counter of the Year in 2017 for having the largest range of certified sustainable seafood on our counters. Our ambition is that all of the wild-caught seafood we sell will be certified to the MSC Standard.
One of the species we place a lot of focus on is tuna – tuna is an important seafood commodity as well as a critical component of the marine ecosystem. Canned tuna is a key product for our customers and Tesco is working to ensure that future generations can also enjoy this healthy and affordable source of protein.
We sell skipjack tuna in our Grocery category, and in other products containing tuna such as salads and sandwiches – skipjack is the most sustainable of the commercially traded tuna species because stock levels are healthy.
In addition to stock levels, another aspect of sustainability is the method used to catch tuna.
Currently, we source around 90% of the tuna we sell from fisheries that use the pole and line method. Pole and line fishing accounts for around 10% of global tuna production. As with other fishing methods, Pole and Line fishing can result in the capture of non-target species, however the by-catch of non-tuna species is low due to tuna being caught one-by-one with a pole and line.
We have recently updated our sourcing requirements to allow the sourcing of tuna that is from fisheries that use the Pole and Line and FAD-free fishing methods, and from fisheries that are MSC certified. We also source tuna from vessels that catch free-swimming schools of tuna (FAD-free), and that used anchored FADs.
Our research, and extensive consultation with NGOs, has shown that these methods of fishing are currently preferable to fishing using drifting (or floating) Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs), which currently result in higher levels of by-catch
We believe our role as a business is to work with our suppliers, NGOs, scientists and Governments to drive improvement across the entire tuna industry. As a migratory species that fishes through many different countries waters as well as in international waters, and which is targeted by many different fishing nations, safeguarding tuna fisheries requires a unique collaborative effort.
We are aware of concerns surrounding the MSC-certification of fisheries that involve both certified and uncertified tuna fishing in the same trips. We welcome the fact that the MSC has opened a public consultation on this issue, and we plan to engage closely with the MSC and all stakeholders in order to ensure that the MSC Standard is effectively driving improvement across entire fisheries.