UK – Tesco, a British supermarket chain, has threatened to stop sourcing yellowfin tuna and billfish from the Indian Ocean due to failures to manage the overfished stock in the region.

The supermarket chain said that the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) needs to adopt a recovery plan for rebuilding stocks in their next meeting in order to prevent this from happening,

Tesco stated that tuna presents one of the biggest challenges in terms of sustainability. Within the chain, yellowfin is sold as frozen or chilled steaks whereas skipjack goes into cans and sandwiches.

“IOTC’s existing fishery management practices have proved ineffective and robust recovery plans have not been set. Without these, declining tuna populations threaten to impact the entire marine ecosystem,” read part of the blog.

A 25 percent reduction in the Indian Ocean yellowfin catch will be necessary to help the stock recover within two years

“Should the member states at the meeting fail to agree a credible and effective recovery plan to rebuild the population within two generations, Tesco will stop sourcing tuna and billfish from the Indian Ocean for our Own Brand supply until such a plan is adopted.”

If that were to happen, Tesco said that its advocacy and efforts in the area will continue through the Global Tuna Alliance (GTA), and its partnership with WWF.

“We recognize the importance of the work our branded suppliers are doing, as they continue to lead the industry in promoting the responsible sourcing of tuna and ask that this leadership continues to improve sustainability in the Indian Ocean,” the company said.

Last year, the retailer decided to freeze its volumes for tuna and billfish in the Indian Ocean. It also joined other retailers and NGOs to call for the catch reductions recommended by the IOTC’s scientists to be put in place and commit to an effective rebuilding plan.

“With international collaboration and precautionary management measures, the Indian Ocean has great potential to have flourishing fisheries to feed local communities as well as the global growing demand for seafood. We hope the IOTC members reach an agreement for a robust yellowfin rebuilding plan in November,” Tesco said.

According to GTA, which is an independent group of retailers and suppliers committed to improving tuna sustainability and human rights in tuna fisheries, a 25 percent reduction in the Indian Ocean yellowfin catch will be necessary to help the stock recover within two years.

Some 20 percent of the world’s tuna catch comes from the Indian Ocean. The three main European export markets of IOT are the United Kingdom, France and Italy.

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