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Dansk Supermarket Frustrated over Lack of Sustainable Skipjack Tuna

08 November 2012

GLOBAL - A leading retailer in Denmark is expressing its frustration with the lack of sustainably caught skipjack tuna from a fishery that was certified as sustainable nearly a year ago. The supermarket chain has called on Pacific tuna fisheries to comply with Marine Stewardship Council Standards so it can sell Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified tuna.

With an annual turnover of more than USD 11 billion, Dansk Supermarked is the latest buyer in Europe to publicly show its support for the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) sustainable tuna, which is cobranded as “Pacifical.” The retailer joins companies like Anova Seafood, a Netherlands-based frozen and fresh fish distributor, and Spar Austria, a major supermarket chain in Austria, who in recent weeks have urged fishing companies and processors in the PNA region to start catching and producing their skipjack tuna sustainably.

Back in December 2011, the PNA free school purse seine skipjack fishery was certified against the globally recognized Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard, but so far no certified tuna product has reached the market. The problem is that boat owners and canneries located in the PNA are not cooperating and the fishery is still waiting for its Chain of Custody (COC) certification as a result. COC guarantees the MSC certified tuna is caught without fish-aggregation devices (FADs) and is kept separate from non-certified catch throughout the entire supply chain.

For Dansk, which hopes to offer only MSC-certified fish products in its stores, the lack of the Pacifical tuna supply is disappointing.

“I was hoping now that everything would be in place and that we could get started because I know that we can sell a lot of MSC tuna products. We will put them on our shelves when it’s available, but we just need to have a supply,” says Søren Lund Thomsen, Dansk’s category purchasing manager. “It’s disappointing that we’re still waiting for things to get ready.”

Pacifical tuna meets the retailer’s sustainability commitments 100 per cent, says Thomsen, who adds it is especially valued for its MSC logo.

“What is important for us is that somebody neutral comes in and gives it the stamp of approval that it is sustainable. It’s easy for me as a buyer to say that what I’m buying is sustainable, but it’s better if somebody who is not involved comes in and says it, like MSC.”

Compared to other eco-labels, both Dansk and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) believe the MSC standard is the most credible and sustainable level that fisheries can achieve. With a broad view on sustainability and regard for the entire ecosystem, the MSC logo ensures that the PNA’s certified skipjack tuna is sourced from a well-managed fishery and caught with very little by-catch of other marine life, including dolphins, sharks, turtles, mantas and juvenile tuna.

Thomsen says the MSC brand is growing slowly among consumers in Denmark, but it has the potential to become widely popular. “It won’t be well known until we have more MSC certified products on our shelves, so until that happens, the consumers won’t know that it’s out there.”

“The aim for Dansk is to have all our fish – canned or frozen or fresh – sustainable. And number one, when we talk about sustainability is MSC. We’re not there yet, but that is what we’re working on and MSC is the obvious solution for us,” says Thomsen.

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