This week, John West Australia, WWF-Australia (WWF) and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), announced that they have come together to make the single biggest brand commitment to help end unsustainable fishing methods within the canned tuna industry in Australia.
The alliance with WWF and MSC is the result of years of the entities working together to find a way to overhaul John West's supply standards within Australia, moving towards a more sustainable future for the world's oceans.
"Our oceans are in crisis due to a history of mismanagement by humanity,” says WWF Australia CEO Dermot O'Gorman. “As a result of a collaborative effort by WWF, MSC and John West, Australians will now see over 100 million cans of clearly labelled MSC-certified sustainably sourced tuna in supermarkets. The magnitude of this — affecting a huge 43 percent of Australia's canned tuna — makes this a world first. Sustainability in Australia has just taken a mighty step forward thanks to the leadership of John West Australia."
MSC Asia Pacific Director, Patrick Caleo, says, "This is the largest offering of MSC-labelled canned tuna in the world. By completely transforming their supply chain to source from MSC-certified sustainable fisheries, John West are leading the way to help ensure our oceans stay healthy and teeming with life for generations to come. We are proud to be alongside John West as they make this significant change and congratulate them on this monumental move to help keep our oceans healthy.”
Populations of fish species caught for human consumption have fallen by half, but John West — Australia's leading tuna brand — is confident its position will aid in bringing awareness to the issue on a global scale.
"In 2012, we pledged that by the end of 2015, John West Australia would only source purse seine-caught skipjack tuna caught using independently verified, FAD-free methods,” says Graham Dugdale, John West’s Executive Director - Commercial. “After three years of extensive research, close collaboration with MSC and WWF, I am proud to announce that this target has been met and exceeded. Not only are we sourcing FAD-free but we have made sure it is MSC-certified sustainable and completely traceable from ocean to can."
"However, our commitment extends much further and aims not only to educate, but also ingrain this perspective. We must position ocean sustainability as the 'norm' and only option moving forward," says Dugdale.
John West’s parent company, Thai Union, has come under fire for the presence of slave labor and overfishing throughout its global supply chain. In October, Greenpeace launched a campaign urging the company to follow through on its commitments — such as to source 100 percent sustainable tuna for its John West brand by 2016 — after finding that it had only achieved 2 percent since setting the goal in 2011. Now that it has apparently met its goal for Australia, hopefully John West will expand its efforts to the rest of the world.