Major retailer Woolworths South Africa becomes IPNLF's newest Member

International retailer Woolworths seals its commitment to responsible tuna fisheries by becoming the latest Member of IPNLF
Pole-and-line tuna fishing in the Maldives, 2017 © Woolworths South Africa

Woolworths Holdings Limited is a leading southern hemisphere retail group with its head office based in South Africa. The group consists of three major operating divisions, including Woolworths, which operates across 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, David Jones and Country Road Group. Its membership coincides with the launch of Woolworths’ new pole-and-line canned tuna range, which meets a momentous milestone in its Fishing for the Future initiative, and is particularly prominent as canned tuna is very much a household staple for many South African homes.

With immediate effect, all of Woolworths’ own-brand canned tuna will be sourced from the Maldives’ centuries-old pole-and-line fishery, which uses a traditional ‘one-by-one’ fishing method that is widely regarded as the most environmentally and socially responsible means of catching tuna.

Through its membership, Woolworths joins a growing network of companies that are supporting IPNLF’s work to enhance the supply of one-by-one caught tuna, and strengthen the value that these fisheries bring to the coastal environments and communities connected to them.

Spencer Sonn, Woolworths Managing Director of Foods, says, “We are proud to be an active proponent in the development of responsible tuna fisheries through our sourcing commitments and support of IPNLF’s fishery projects. We are delighted to be able to increase our offer of environmentally sustainable products to our customers.” 

“Our vision is to be the most sustainable retailer in the southern hemisphere, which means ensuring the integrity of all of our supply chains – from seafood to clothing. We have partnered with the International Pole & Line Foundation to ensure the long-term viability of responsibly caught one-by-one tuna. We recognise the value that these fisheries bring in terms of quality and sustainability, and we are pleased to support them for the benefit of the coastal environment and communities connected to them”, comments Sonn.

Martin Purves, Managing Director of IPNLF, says, “We are extremely pleased to be welcoming our first African retail Member to the IPNLF network; we commend Woolworths on its proactive decision to not only source tuna from a responsible one-by-one fishery, but to also become part of the growing movement working to increase the supply of sustainable tuna in order to meet the unprecedented demand from consumer markets. We look forward to increasing our engagement in this region and encouraging many other enterprises from African shores to help drive the sustainable and equitable development of one-by-one tuna fisheries.”

Dr. Mohamed Shainee, Maldives Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture for the Maldives, says “We want to keep our one-by-one tuna fisheries thriving so that future generations can benefit from the employment and income opportunities that our fishers have today. The Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture is delighted that Woolworths has taken the decision to support our one-by-one fisheries through its membership with IPNLF as well as its commitment to source all tuna for its own-brand canned products from responsible Maldivian tuna fisheries.” 

Notes to Editors


Woolworths Holdings Limited (WHL) is a leading southern hemisphere retail group, with its head office in South Africa. The group consists of three major operating divisions: Woolworths South Africa (Woolworths or WSA), which is based in South Africa and operates across 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa; David Jones (David Jones or DJ), based and trading in Australia; and the Country Road Group (Country Road Group or CRG), based in Australia and trading in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

WHL’s mission is to be the first choice for consumers in the southern hemisphere who care about value, innovation and sustainability. Its values (quality, service innovation, integrity, energy and sustainability) inform and underpin the way it conducts itself across the business – from values-based leadership to passionate brand advocacy.

Sustainability is one of the core values of Woolworths and is deeply entrenched in the heart of its business. In 2007, Woolworths launched its Good Business Journey, in which it set medium to long-term targets to continually improve, be more efficient, and to make an even more positive impact. As part of this programme, Woolworths introduced its sustainable seafood policy in 2008, which later became its ‘Fishing for the Future’ initiative. Woolworths met its commitments relating to wild-caught species in 2016 (97% of wild caught species are either WWF-SASSI green-listed, caught from Marine Stewardship Council certified fisheries, or from fisheries that are undertaking credible, time-bound improvement projects), and is now working towards meeting its commitment for farmed seafood by 2020.


The International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) works to develop, support and promote socially and environmentally responsible pole-and-line and handline tuna fisheries around the world. IPNLF’s ambition is to contribute to thriving coastal fisheries, including the people, communities, businesses and seas connected with them.  As a hub for sustainably-minded organisations, we use the influence of the market to forge change through practical fishery projects and stakeholder cooperation. IPNLF membership is open to organisations involved in the one-by-one caught tuna supply chain. Allied with our Members, IPNLF demonstrates the value of one-by-one caught tuna to consumers, policymakers and throughout the supply chain. We work across science, policy and the seafood sector, using an evidence-based, solutions-focused approach with guidance from our Scientific & Technical Advisory Committee and Board of Trustees.

IPNLF was officially registered in the United Kingdom in 2012 (Charity 1145586), with branch offices in London and the Maldives, and a staff presence in Indonesia.

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