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Major Spanish Brands Scored On Sustainability In Greenpeace Tuna Guide

Greenpeace has assessed the Spanish canned tuna sector and calls for greater sustainability and transparency. The action group’s Tuna Guide concludes that Spanish tuna brands have to include more information on their labels and should use more sustainable fishing methods.
The guide, which was released last week, evaluates the sustainability level of 14 brands owned by Spain’s main canned tuna companies. After the analysis, the environmental organization concludes that, overall, the sector mostly provides tuna obtained through an unsustainable fishing method -purse seine with FADs - and has to improve its policies and the labeling of its products.

Greenpeace points out that Spain is a leading country in the production, export and consumption per capita of tuna, and therefore the Spanish industry plays a very important role in the future of these fisheries.

The environmental group evaluated 14 tuna brands, both national brands as well as retailers’ private labels, based on seven criteria: traceability, sustainability of the fishing method, illegal fishing, social equity, purchasing policy, information and transparency towards the consumer; and initiatives to promote change.
The analysis was performed using the information provided by the tuna companies themselves, data publicly available and information gathered on the products by Greenpeace volunteers. The guide scores using three color: Red, Orange and Green.

Ortiz, Salica, El Corte Ingles, Albo, Eroski, Isabel (Conservas Garavilla), Mercadona and Lidl, all scored Red; meaning that the criteria were insufficiently met.

Frinsa, Carrefour, Rianxeira (JEALSA), Auchan, Calvo and Consorcio were rated Orange,  which indicates that improvement is needed.

According to the report, not one single brand available in the Spanish market, and part of the test, scored Green; which would be what Greenpeace would recommend consumers to buy.

“Consumers are increasingly demanding more sustainable products from our oceans. Canned tuna is the most consumed seafood by the Spanish population and yet they get little information on the sustainability of the product they purchase,” said Elvira Jimenez, head of Greenpeace Spain Oceans Campaigner. “With this guide, Greenpeace wants to transfer information on these tuna products to the public and continue to work with the companies to create further improvements”.

The analysis shows that, in general, companies have good traceability from the sea to the point of sale, but not all know  from which stock or ocean their tuna originates from or which boat it comes from. Most companies do incorporate social equity criteria in their fishing and production. However, the guide finds that there is still much progress to be made in terms of the use of sustainable fishing methods, since most of the tuna consumed in Spain comes from purse seine fishing with FADs.

Similarly, companies must improve their policies, making commitments clearly defined in time. As an exercise in transparency, these policies should become public, says Greenpeace. The fight against illegal fishing is critical to the future of fishing and the Spanish companies all do incorporate criteria to prevent fishery products of illegal origin or unregulated. However, there are IUU cases by the Spanish tuna fleet currently under investigation and possibly subject to fines.
The organization concluded that another key point to improve by companies is product labeling. Despite the good traceability, labeling currently is very poor, except in rare exceptions, the consumer does not know the origin or the fishing method, basic data for evaluating the sustainability of a product before purchasing. In this sense, the supermarkets have an additional responsibility to promote and inform customers about the most sustainable products available.
“Greenpeace has conducted this evaluation in other countries like the UK or Canada and the industry has been reacting positively and has been making commitments to improve their sustainability and information to the consumer. Some of the companies surveyed have already begun taking steps but much remains still to be done. Spanish brands cannot sit back and should move forward, “concluded Jimenez.