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John West tuna labelling has fooled us all

dolphinThe United Kingdom’s leading tinned tuna supplier has been accused of misleading consumers by using packaging to suggest its fishing methods are sustainable and ‘dolphin friendly’. Well, now it seems the truth is out and the firm has been canning tuna caught using fishing methods that endanger rare turtles and sharks. The Tines reports that Professor Callum Roberts, professor of marine conservation at the University of York, has confirmed that the fishing methods used by John West are being misrepresented to consumers under EU rules that mean that all tins of tuna should identify how the fish are caught – many leading supermarkets own brands such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s state on their tins that they use the ‘pole and line’ method that restricts the risks to other species. But John West say their tuna is ‘safe’ with an image of what appears to be a dolphin underneath. But, and its a big but, they use aggregation devices to fish – which most scientists say cause huge damages to species like sharks and turtles, although somewhat remarkably John West are now claiming that this science is wrong and that if the devices were properly managed they did not endanger other species. Aggregation devices attract fish to purse seine nets which often stretch for miles – but other species become entangled too.

hawksbill-turtle-thailandJohn West deny their system would cause this. But food labelling campaigners point out that they avoid telling consumers anything about how they fish for tuna – With professor Callum saying they should identify that thy use aggregation devices and seine nets and that there may be be ‘large collateral damage’ and that alone is a worry when you are expecting honest advice about something you are going to eat. Isn’t it?

Greenpeace say this about John West:  “They promised 100% sustainable tuna by 2016 – so far they’ve managed 2%. They show little intention to change. John West’s owners, Thai Union, have been linked to human rights abuses in their seafood supply chains They must stop using unsustainable fishing methods that catch sharks, endangered turtles and other creatures”, placing John West right at the bottom of their league table of which tuna brands are worst for people, planet and oceans? Next worst are Princes and then Lidl. Top are Waitrose, followed by M&S and Saisnburys and and Greenpeace say this about Waitrose tuna:  “A go to #JustTuna brand – other companies should follow their lead Tuna is 100% sustainably caught and Waitrose is dedicated to ensuring it is fairly caught” They say “Sustainability is at the very heart of what we do”.