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Princes Group reduces Indian Ocean yellowfin sourcing to support long term sustainability

23/10/2020
  • Indian Ocean yellowfin stock has been overfished since 2015
  • Princes had reduced its Indian Ocean yellowfin sourcing by more than 40% since 2017
  • New announcement will see company make total sourcing reduction of 50% on 2017 levels – 25% above the scientific guidance

International food and drink group Princes is continuing to take action to protect tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean by announcing that it intends to reduce its yellowfin sourcing by 50% – over 16,000 tonnes – between 2017 and 2022.

The stock has been overfished since 2015 and requires urgent action to reverse this trend. Princes has been working to develop alternative sources of Yellowfin since 2017 and has already achieved a 40% reduction meaning that Princes usage of Indian Ocean yellowfin currently accounts for less than 5% of the total IO catch. (2)

Princes says it hopes the voluntary cut to 50% by 2022 will make clear to the IOTC, its member states, fisheries and vessels, that action and leadership is required in order to protect the long term sustainability of Indian Ocean tuna and the associated industry in the region.

Neil Bohannon, Group Director for Fish at Princes, said: “We have supported repeated calls for reductions in yellowfin catch in line with the scientific advice.  In recognition of the situation we face, Princes decided to take action to reduce our use of Indian Ocean yellowfin.  Our action alone however will not be enough, the IOTC needs to take action to with all gear types and fleets to reduce catches by 25% from 2017 levels”.

“It is clear we need a credible recovery plan to be agreed by all parties, delivering stock rebuilding within two generations. With our voluntary reduction of Indian Ocean yellowfin in excess of the scientific advice, we are demonstrating our commitment in supporting this recovery”.

“Princes has two manufacturing sites in Mauritius with some 4,000 colleagues and many more jobs in the region are reliant on us. Sustaining the seafood economy is reliant on long term sustainable tuna and the IOTC needs to show leadership and take firm action. We are committed to playing our part.”

“Our commitment to our Mauritian operations mean we have a strong vested interest in the future sustainability of Indian Ocean tuna. We respect decisions that other stakeholders may make on sourcing from the region but hope all stakeholders will continue to embrace the principles of partnership, collaboration and advocacy that are common in addressing the many sustainability or human rights challenges that exist in global food supply chains, of which Indian Ocean tuna is no exception. We look forward to continuing to work with the entire industry to drive change.”

Marcel Kroese, WWF Global Tuna Leader said: “WWF believes that the tuna market plays an important role and welcomes the action Princes is taking to reduce its use of Indian Ocean yellowfin. The species is in a critical state and a plan to rebuild a healthy stock is urgently needed. The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission meeting in November is an important opportunity for member states to come together to act to save the yellowfin tuna stock from collapsing.”

Executive Director of the Global Tuna Alliance Dr Tom Pickerell said: “This is a very important announcement by Princes. Action is urgently needed on overfished yellowfin stocks, and it is great to see an individual company making such significant strides. What is crucial now is that the IOTC supports these efforts with a formalised and scientifically sound rebuilding plan – this is what the Global Tuna Alliance has been asking of all IOTC delegates. If properly managed there will be enough tuna for everyone – it’s not rocket science; a 25% cut in catches now will rebuild the stock”.

Many fleets that operate in the Indian Ocean have increased their catches since 2017, or are not subject to reduction measures. The 25% reduction proposed within the Global Tuna Alliance’s recent report mirrors the recommendation from the IOTC’s own scientific committee and would see yellowfin stock levels rebuild in two generations. (1)

Princes has previously stated it is committed to only processing responsibly sourced tuna. Princes defines responsibly sourced as fisheries that are either already certified according to the standards of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), or are involved in a time-bound Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) that is working towards achieving standards required for MSC certification. Fully traceable pole and line fisheries and catches made that are Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) free are also included.

Bohannon added: “We fully understand the responsibility we have to ensure that this vital natural resource is sourced responsibly. As one of the UK’s biggest importers of tuna, the responsible sourcing of tuna stocks and our role in driving meaningful sustainable change is of crucial importance to our current and future business.

Princes was also a founding partner of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation in 2009, and plays an active leadership role in challenging and promoting the organisation’s work and standards towards the long-term conservation and sustainable use of global tuna stocks, reducing bycatch and promoting tuna ecosystem health.

Princes’ two tuna processing sites in Mauritius are MSC Chain Of Custody certified and both hold SA8000 certification for social accountability.

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