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Greenpeace Genetic Tinned Tuna Tests Reveals Trail Of Fishy Secrets; Industry 'Hoodwinking Both Consumers And Retailers'

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VIENNA, Germany -- The first independent, public genetic tests into the contents of popular tinned tuna brands from twelve countries have uncovered evidence of the tuna industry's complete disregard for both consumers and the future sustainability of tuna stocks said Greenpeace today [1].

The tests, carried out by Spanish marine research laboratory AZTI Tecnalia [2], analysed canned tuna products from Austria, Australia, Greece, Netherlands, NZ, Canada, Spain, Italy, US, UK, Switzerland and Germany, testing at least five different tuna brands from each country. Numerous notable inconsistencies were discovered [3], including several instances of two different species appearing in the same tin – an illegal practice in the EU [4], erratic inclusion of different species in various tins of the same product, while other tins contained species that differed to what was claimed on the label, including species being overfished such as bigeye and yellowfin tuna.

"The tinned tuna industry is not only hoodwinking both consumers and retailers about the tinned tuna that lands in shopping baskets worldwide, it's making them complicit in a trail of destruction", said Greenpeace International oceans campaigner Nina Thuellen. "Tuna companies are indiscriminately stuffing multiple species of tuna, including juveniles of species in decline, into tins that shoppers rightfully expect to contain a sustainable product. Retailers must act now to immediately shift their business away from cheap tuna caught using FADs with purse seine nets and source from pole and line or FAD-free purse seined tuna instead".

Greenpeace has identified the use of FADs ( fish aggregation devices ), as the main factor for both the mixing of species and the inclusion of juvenile tuna of species being overfished. Employed in combination with purse seine nets, FADs are man-made floating objects that attract not only juvenile tuna, but also turtles and endangered and vulnerable sharks species such as whale and silky sharks, which are regularly netted as bycatch. Once in the freezers, identification and sorting of juveniles is regarded as very difficult, resulting in species being mixed in the tinning process.

"By using fish aggregation devices in purse seining and removing juvenile tuna from the oceans, the tuna industry is driving the future collapse of tuna stocks, along with its own demise," continued Thuellen. "FADs are at the root of an unsustainable industry, driving the overfishing of tuna populations, and hindering the recovery of species like bigeye and yellowfin. Greenpeace is calling on regional tuna management organisations to enact an immediate global ban on fish aggregation devices, if we are to have any hope for the future sustainability of tuna".

Greenpeace is calling on politicians take the opportunity to ban FADs at the West and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission [6] meeting in Hawaii on December 6th, where further measures to rescue the regions' declining bigeye tuna stocks will be discussed.

The full results of the genetic testing into tinned tuna are available for download, as well as a detailed briefing on fish aggregation devices. Greenpeace is campaigning for sustainable fisheries and a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world's oceans as necessary steps to restoring the world's oceans to health.

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