But since the 1960s, this situation has drastically changed. World tuna catches have been increasing constantly and rapidly with world canned (processed) tuna incrementing from 200,000 tonnes in the 1970s to more then 1 million tonnes only 10 years ago.
Catches of tuna are rising, but there is evidence that wild populations are not replenishing fast enough for this trend to continue.
Between 1940 and the mid-1960s, the annual global catch of the 5 principal market species of tunas rose from about 300,000 tonnes to about 1 million tonne. With the development of purse-seine nets, now the predominant gear, catches have risen to more than 4 million tonnes annually during the last few years.
|Overfished||Current status of the Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna, Pacific Ocean (eastern and western) bigeye tuna, and North Atlantic albacore tuna (source: ISSF)|
WWF approachWe collaborate with partners to push market demand for sustainable seafood and aid seafood producers to strive towards sustainable fishing and responsible procurement practices.
As such, WWF helps to assess company supply chains and, where appropriate, achieving credible certification such as that of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a system for recognizing sustainably caught seafood.
Progress12.9% of global tuna caught sustainably and MSC certified (January 2014)
CASE STUDY: MANAGING SUSTAINABLE STOCKS
The ISSF advocates for effective regional management structures, and tuna fisheries move towards Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. The eight companies that were founding members together controlled more than half the global canned tuna market.
This gave the organisation considerable clout – which it used immediately. In April 2009 ISSF announced that its members would stop buying bigeye tuna from the eastern Pacific unless the IATTC agreed to science-based conservation measures that would allow the stock to recover.
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- Tuna are prone to overfishing, with some stocks approaching complete depletion;
- Unsustainable bycatch of non-target species, many of which have high conservation and ecosystem value, including sea turtles, sharks and small cetaceans.
- Improved regional fisheries management is critical to strengthening the governance of marine ecosystems;
- Poverty alleviation by transforming the economies of tuna fishing in the Indian and Pacific Oceans;
- Rights-based management and designing, financing and implementing international traceability systems can enhance the value of sustainable fishing practices and create incentives for fishers.
CASE STUDY: Raising standards for tuna
After joining the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) in 2010, the Maldives encouraged the first model-based skipjack stock assessment for the region. In 2012, the Maldives pole and- line skipjack fishery achieved MSC certification, although with a set of conditions, making it a first in the Indian Ocean.
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Be part of the solution
► Consumers can search for MSC-certified products to find seafood caught and/or processed by companies that have taken steps to reduce their negative impacts on the marine environment.
Find out more about what you can do