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Woolworths Australia Switches To All MSC Tuna By 2015 Australia, January 30, 13

Australia’s Woolworths supermarket chain has announced its commitment to have all the wild-caught fish it sells certified by the Marine Stewardship Council by 2015.

This includes wild caught skipjack tuna.

Sydney’s famous Taronga Park Zoo has teamed up with Woolworths to launch a new program which aims to improve marine conservation in Australia.

A spokesperson for Woolworths said that 100 percent of Select canned tuna, which is 1,200 M/T in net weight canned tuna, will become 100 percent ‘pole and line’ caught by the end of 2013, thus substantially reducing the amount of by-catch of sharks and juvenile tuna.

Currently only the Maldivian skipjack pole and line fisheries is MSC certified. Woolworths’ demand would require at least 3,000 M/T of pole and line caught whole round skipjack.

With this move Woolworths follows earlier commitments made by the other Australian retailer Coles, which announced it was committed to buy Pacifical MSC certified free school skipjack tuna.

The campaign aims to combine Taronga Zoo’s experience in conservation education with Woolworths connection to 890 communities throughout its Australian stores.

Managing Director of Woolworths supermarkets, Tjeerd Jegen said that Woolworths wanted to play a role in maintaining sustainable fish stocks.

Its partnership with Taronga Zoo also involves a multi-million dollar investment over three years, with Woolworths becoming the principal supporter of Taronga’s Great Southern Oceans precinct, which highlights Australia’s marine conservation needs. Funds will also directly support a range of the Zoo’s marine protection programs, working to help species from the Antarctic to the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The partnership will operate throughout all Woolworths stores around Australia.

Woolworths’ sustainable fishing strategy began in March 2011, and has so far has introduced 17 Marine Stewardship Council-certified products in the canned and frozen range under the Woolworths Select brand.

In addition, 70 percent of Woolworths’ wild-caught fish sold in its fish counter has been assessed by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership which has strongly guided Woolworths’ sourcing decisions.

Woolworths has committed to, and been working towards, phasing out fish aggregating devices, which arbitrarily catch many different species aside from the target species, from its own-brand canned tuna by 2015.