The real price of fish

Last Sunday’s TV 3 story on Sealord’s yellowfin tuna is a perfect example of why the Greens spend a lot of time talking about labelling.

The ITM fishing show host Matt Watson spoke out about his concern for yellowfin tuna stocks saying that Sealord is being irresponsible by marketing and selling this fish which is on the brink of being overfished.

A big part of the problem is that the particular fishing method used to catch the fish makes a huge difference. Pole and line caught avoids bycatch of other animals that you get with trawling or longline fishing methods.

You can read a great explanation of the different fishing methods on the Greenpeace website.

Matt Watson said that it’s up to consumers to drive change. We also agree that consumers have huge power and many New Zealanders want to support more sustainable business practices with their supermarket choices. But they can’t do so if the labelling regulations are letting companies get away with confusing, misleading, or just uninformative labels.

We support Matt Watson’s calls for compulsory labelling of fish so that consumers can have the information they need to make sustainable purchasing decisions. But while we wait for that labelling what can we do in the meantime?

Of course going vegetarian or catching your own fish are options that consumers can take, but if that step is not for you, then making a choice to choose sustainably caught fish will make a big difference.  According to Greenpeace:

“In New Zealand pole and line caught tuna is sold under the Pams and Fish 4Ever labels. Greenseas and John West have committed to phase out unsustainably caught tuna by 2015. Sealord, which is New Zealand’s largest canned tuna brand, is refusing to change.”

So that’s the tinned tuna, but what about the fresh stuff?

A great tip is to download this wallet guide or iPhone app from Forest and Bird that helps you choose the more sustainable fish while you are standing at the fish counter.

You can see on there, for example, that if you want tuna for dinner, go for skipjack over yellowfin.

2 Comments Posted

  1. I have given up buying canned tuna all together. People need to wake up to these issues. I get funny looks when I get out my forest and bird fish list at the supermarket. But I won’t buy fish without checking it.

  2. I buy Pam’s (New World) cans of tune which are labelled skipjack and pole and line caught so it can be done.

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