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article imageTesco criticized for stocking unsustainable tuna

By Tim Sandle     Mar 2, 2014 in Food
U.K. grocer chain Tesco has been criticized for stocking a brand of tuna described as "unsustainable" due to the tuna being fished with destructive methods that kill turtles, sharks and rays alongside the tuna.
Tesco stores in the U.K. have been spotted selling Oriental and Pacific tuna. According to the environmental campaign group Greenpeace, Oriental and Pacific tuna is caught using Fish Aggregation Devices, which cause indiscriminate bycatch of fish like sharks and rays, along with tuna. Tesco pledged in 2012 to ensure all its own brand tuna was sustainably caught.
There are five commercially fished species of tuna – albacore, bigeye, bluefin, skipjack and yellowfin. Stocks of them all are under pressure but bigeye is listed as vulnerable, whilst bluefin is critically endangered. The Fish Aggregation Devices involve, according to Ethical Consumer, involve the release extremely long fishing lines to which are attached shorter lines and thousands of baited hooks. It’s effective but not selective and can end up catching other species, such as seabirds, sharks and turtles that go after the bait in shallow waters. Long-lines, which are made of non-biodegradable monofilaments, are often lost and can drift at sea indefinitely, snagging, entangling, and killing marine life for decades after they ceased to be used by fishing vessels.
To highlight the campaign, Greenpeace have launched a petition to persuade Britain's major supermarket to remove Oriental and Pacific products from their selves.
According to the BBC, Tesco has defended its position by saying that its own brand tuna is cruelty-free but it needs to stock other brands in order to keep up with demand. A spokesman told the BBC: "Many of our competitors continue to sell non-pole and line caught tuna. Customers have a great choice of sustainable tuna at Tesco."
The television station Channel 4 will be debating the matter on a program called 'Fish Fight' on the evening of March 2. The TV show is hosted by chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Interviewed by The Independent, Fearnley-Whittingstall said: "Tesco made one of the biggest commitments of all to sell the most sustainable tuna, but they now stock a new brand called Oriental and Pacific, which is caught using methods that accidentally catch and kill endangered animals like turtles, rays and sharks.”
He also added: “There's no information on Oriental and Pacific tins to tell shoppers how the tuna was caught. If they really care about our oceans then Tesco should take this tuna off the shelves today, and other supermarkets must follow suit.”
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