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Representatives from the science, environmental and business arenas have come together to establish the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), a nonprofit organization created in response to increasingly threatened global tuna populations.
The group will undertake science-based initiatives to support the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks.
“This is an unprecedented collaborative commitment on the part of major industry players to work alongside the world’s premier marine scientists and environmental non-governmental organizations, especially our founding conservation partner WWF, to preserve the world’s marine ecosystem,” noted ISSF president Susan S. Jackson.
According to Jackson, ISSF’s mission “is to help ensure that targeted tuna stocks will be sustained at or above levels of abundance capable of supporting maximum sustainable yield.This includes working towards the reduction of by-catch and helping to fund scientific research that supports improved management of tuna stocks. ISSF has already advanced this cause with its first board actions.”
The organization has adopted such conservation measures as not using tuna from any boat engaged in illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing, and ISSF participants also agreed to share relevant catch or purchase data with responsible regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs), to help ensure that scientific recommendations are made based on the best available information.
Although the ISSF founding seafood companies aren’t involved in the bluefin segment of the industry, which mainly supplies the sashimi market, the board issued a statement of concern encouraging the adoption of policies supporting proper management of bluefin in the Atlantic, one of the most threatened of all tuna stocks.
ISSF initiatives will be based on recommendations from the independent ISSF Science Committee, chaired by Dr. James Joseph and featuring internationally recognized authorities on marine biology and ecosystems, ocean fisheries and particularly tuna sustainability.
“Our customers in the retail and food service trades, our consumers who buy tuna in grocery stores and restaurants, and indeed all of society rightfully expect that the world’s highly valuable stocks of tuna will be fished responsibly and sustainably,” said Chris Lischewski, chairman of ISSF and president and chief executive officer of Bumble Bee Foods.
“This responsibility, not only regarding tuna stocks but also the marine environment as a whole, rests in very large part with the seafood industry,” added Adolfo Valsecchi, MW Brands CEO.
The founding companies of ISSF are Bolton Alimentari; Bumble Bee Foods/Clover Leaf Seafoods; MW Brands; Princes, Ltd.; Sea Value Co., Ltd.; StarKist Co.; Thai Union Manufacturing Co., Ltd/Chicken of the Sea International; TriMarine International; and WWF.