No, it’s impossible to feed the world merely with one-by-one sourced tuna. Quite simply, global demand for tuna is too high for that. We are not against industrial fishing methods per se, however, we do believe in a holistic approach to sustainability; this means looking at the social, economical, and environmental impact of fishing methods. We also plead for better FAD management, transparency of deployment and collection, as well as a stop to harmful subsidies and human rights abuse. You can read more in Rethinking FADs and Reimagine Tuna Initiative.
Pole-and-line fisheries are dedicated to preserving fish populations for generations to come, and this ethos extends to baitfish as well as their target species, tuna. IPNLF has invested in research into improving bait fishing, and baitfish farming to provide an alternative to wild baitfish.
IPNLF is a UK-registered charity rather than an industry representative body. However, our work helps to advise and advocate alongside industry representative bodies, such as fishery associations, to ensure one-by-one fisheries are considered in policy-making and have an equal voice to large-scale fisheries.
The Foundation is not a certifying body. However, you may find our logo on tuna products. This simply means that the brand/retailer/producer/seller of that product is a supporting member of IPNLF. ⠀
There are many species of tuna, and different threatened categories are assigned to different species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Skipjack tuna, Katsuwonus pelamis, is listed as Least Concern, whereas Southern Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus maccoyii, is listed as Critically Endangered.
IPNLF does not promote fishing of bluefin tuna for this reason, our OBO fisheries target healthy stocks of albacore tuna, skipjack tuna, yellowfin tuna and sometimes bigeye tuna.
Fortunately, one-by-one caught tuna is spreading like wildfire through large retailers globally. Our Sourcing Transparency Platform (STP) details all of the brands and retailers we work with that sell one-by-one caught tuna, which countries they supply to, and which fisheries their tuna come from, so the STP is a good place to start if you’re on the hunt for sustainable tuna. The best thing to do when you’re in your local store or supermarket is to look for the words ‘pole & line caught’ or ‘caught one-by-one’ on your tuna product. Then you know your tuna was caught using one pole, one line and one fish at a time.
There are 6 widely used methods for catching tuna. Pole & line, handline and troll fishing are all methods of one-by-one (OBO) fishing, which catch one fish at a time, and therefore have very little bycatch. These methods also produce very little abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), commonly known as ghost gear, thus OBO fishing has very low levels of plastic pollution.
Longline, gillnet and purse seine net fishing are all examples of methods that catch multiple fish at once. Longline fishing involves casting a line horizontally in the ocean, with vertical lines hanging from it, each with a hook on the end. The tuna are attracted to the hooks and become caught on them. Gillnet fishing involves casting a net horizontally in the ocean, that has mesh big enough for tuna to fit partially through but in which they become stuck. Purse seine fishing involves deploying a large net around entire schools of tuna and hauling them on to a boat using a crane.
Longline, gillnet and purse seine fishing all have high levels of bycatch, which means they catch sharks, dolphins, whales, juvenile tuna, and other marine animals including seabirds. They also use large amounts of plastic gear, that can become ghost gear, continuing to damage marine life even after the fleet has ceased using it.
Don’t be fooled by stickers, stamps, and claims; instead, you want to look for the gear type used in catching tuna. Look for ‘pole-and-line’, ‘one-by-one’ or ‘hand line’ on the packaging of your tuna product.
The largest species of tuna, such as bluefin tuna, play the role of apex predator in their ecosystems, they are the big cats of the ocean. Even the smaller species of tuna such as skipjack tuna are considered important predator species in their ecosystems. They control prey populations and therefore changes in tuna populations cause what is known as a trophic cascade.
A trophic cascade is a phenomenon where many trophic levels in a food web are affected by a significant increase or decrease of one species at one trophic level. When a predator species decreases, it’s prey species become overpopulated, which can deplete the trophic level below the prey species, and therefore damage the balance in that ecosystem. It is important to maintain balanced tuna stocks to maintain the other marine species in their ecosystem.