Canned seafood company John West is attempting to raise the bar on sustainable tuna sourcing and marine biodiversity by establishing a series of ambitious goals.

The main aim is to source 100% of its UK sales of tuna by a combination of pole and line and/or purse seine fish aggregation device (FAD)-free methods by the end of 2016.

Working with Greenpeace, marine biology scientists and the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, the five-year plan will follow a series of stages starting immediately.

“We’ll need full support of boat owners, retailers and consumers to meet our goals,” said managing director, Paul Reenan.

“We know we have a long way to go to meet these challenging targets, but we are committed to continuing to place sustainable fishing practices at the heart of our business.”

So, what has John West promised to do? Firstly, it will source at least 25% of its UK tuna sales from pole and line by the end of 2012.

At least 35% of its tuna will come from pole and line by the end of 2013. For the remaining 65%, the company has promised to only buy tuna purse seined on FADs where the boats are able to provide year-on-year best practice qualified audits of by-catch levels.

And there is an agreement to adopt measures to ensure 50% by-catch reduction by 2014.

John West has pledged its support to all purse seine FAD-Free initiatives and will work with Greenpeace, other stakeholders, scientists and the ISSF throughout the programme.

It will also support the creation of the Pacific Commons Marine Reserves, committing not to source from these areas.

The new tuna sourcing programme kicks off in September when John West will roll out a new range of sustainably sourced tuna products.

“These welcome commitments complete the ground-breaking shifts seen in the UK since Greenpeace’s tinned tuna campaign launched in January,” said John Sauven, Greenpeace UK’s executive director.

“The rapid launch of a new John West pole and line tuna range sets the bar for the rest of the UK’s supermarkets and tuna brands who have newly committed to deliver sustainable tuna.

Historic changes have taken place in the UK, the world’s second largest consumer of tuna.

“The time is ripe for companies worldwide to deliver sustainable tuna in a way that protects tuna stocks and our oceans.”

Also, John West has launched a range of salmon, mackerel and sardines, which will carry the Marine Stewardship Council logo.

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