Monthly Archives: October 2012

How to Choose Sustainable Tuna

Greenpeace has just launched its 4th edition of the Australian Canned Tuna Guide.  For those of you out there that love your tuna and the oceans, you really must take a look for yourself, so you can make an informed choice about your tuna.

You can download the above image as an A4 poster to stick on your fridge: Click here (PDF 1.27MB)

I was involved in bringing the first canned tuna guide to the Australian public a couple of years ago. Back then, none of the cans on our shelves were sustainable, with catches of overfished yellowfin tuna, destructive fishing methods and politically poor fishing choices packaged up and sold to us with barely any labeling.   Down the line we’ve seen a complete game change in the canned tuna market, with companies like Fish 4 Ever and Safcol providing sustainable, pole-and-line caught skipjack tuna, and genuinely working towards a sustainable future.

The tuna brands are ranked according to their:

  • sustainability policy
  • fishing method used (Fish Aggregating Devices, or FADs, are a definite no-no because of the unacceptable bycatch levels)
  • species caught (yellowfin and bigeye are overfished)
  • labelling – so that customers can make an informed choice
  • support for marine reserves (ensuring long-term sustainability) and equitable tuna policies (so that reasonable economic benefits are returned to countries who own the rights to certain tuna stocks)
  • guarantee of a supply chain free from illegal, unregulated or unreported (IUU) fishing (which accounts for up to 46% of fishing activity in the Pacific)

Since the first guide was released, consumer pressure has forced many brands to change their tuna. You can now buy eight different brands of sustainable pole-and-line caught tuna, in most supermarkets.  Safcol for example was the first Australian company to commit to 100% sustainable tuna – an industry-changing move.  They also actively promote sustainable fishing methods and the conservation of overfished species.  Greenseas and Sirena are making a positive change by committing to 100% FAD-free sourcing by 2015.  But several other brands still lag behind, sometimes offering up one sustainable brand whilst making little effort across their range, or in the case of Sole Mare, none at all.

Greenpeace’s current campaign is focusing on John West.  As Australia’s largest seller of canned tuna, John West is having the most damaging impact on marine life through the 10% bycatch rate of its fishing method (FADs and purse seines).  That means they catch the equivalent of about 10 million cans of bycatch every year.

If you would like John West to step up their game and change to sustainable tuna, you can tell them here.

So check out where your favourite brand comes out – and why – in the Greenpeace Canned Tuna Guide.

Make an informed choice, and use your consumer power to make a difference.  Choose sustainable tuna next time you shop.

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Scientists Discover World’s Oldest Turtle Fossil

Polish paleontologists have found what could be the world’s oldest fossil turtle. The Proterochersis robusta specimen has been dated to around 215million years old, a turtle that lived at the same time as dinosaurs.

The team also uncovered a second set of remains in southern Poland, of a species that is thought previously unknown. This could be a great find to help understand more about turtle evolution.

See the video below (BBC on youtube) or click the link to go to the original release.

World’s oldest turtle fossil could bridge evolutionary gap. Reuters.

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To Clean or Not To Clean?

South West Rocks beach in NSWI hear about beach clean-ups a lot. Every few weekends there is another group of concerned locals (and sometimes not-so-locals) who gather together for a few hours with bin bags and rubber gloves ready to go fight the litter strewn on the beach. Possibly followed by a well-earned drink and thoughtful musings over the sunrise/sunset ocean.

It’s a great thing to do for your local beach. But when you come back the next day there’s still more… And more after that. Because the tide washes some up, but also because not everyone out there cares so much.

I’m on holiday on the East Coast of Australia at the moment, having a little road trip visiting all those beautiful beaches that we’ve all heard about. And I was really surprised by the amount of litter we found in even the remotest places. I’d hope that some of this was just washed ashore on the currents… (which also makes you realise how much is really out there). But I’ve also seen people carelessly chucking away those picnic wrappers, throwing cans out of the window, stubbing out cigarettes in the sand…

What I want to know is: whose responsibility is it to clean up this rubbish? How far are you willing to go to confront someone who is littering? Should you leave it to the park and reserve rangers to come along later and clean up, or should you constantly carry a bag and a pair of rubber gloves around to pick up after other people? And why should it be you that does it?

It’s a moral dilemma in a way. How much do you care about the environment, how far will you go? Every piece of litter that you pick up is pollution that won’t become part of the marine environment. But when a family leaves a nice fresh, full, smelly nappy lying in the middle of a beach, and when you point out to them that they left something behind and all you get is a shrug… To clean or not to clean that up?

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