Australian Retailer “Coles” Urges Pacific Boat Owners to Supply MSC Skipjack


Guam – The global demand for Pacifical skipjack tuna is becoming obvious as major Australian food retailer, Coles Supermarkets, echoes European grocery chains this week in its quest for a sustainable supply of the canned fish.

“We are impressed with the PNA MSC certification and disheartened that, as yet, no MSC certified skipjack tuna is available for us to purchase,” writes John Durkan, the company’s merchandise director, in a public letter released yesterday. Coles has 18.6 million customer transactions each week, making it one of the fastest growing food retailers in the world.

With more than 740 stores nationwide and a commitment to only sell sustainably sourced seafood by 2015, the company wants to ensure all of its canned tuna products – Coles’ most popular seafood item – carry the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) blue-and-white guarantee.

“We presently sell two lines of MSC white albacore tuna caught in the South West Pacific Ocean off New Zealand and are keen to extend our MSC canned fish offer, as canned tuna is our biggest selling seafood item,” says Durkan.

Since October, leading retailers in Europe have been expressing their frustration with the complete lack of supply that was first expected in the summer. Now, Coles from Australia too is appealing to the boat owners and other industry players fishing the waters of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) region to fix the problem. Most of the tuna fishing companies operating purse seiners in the PNA are from developed nations, such as Taiwan, Japan, Spain, United Sates, and Korea.

“We urge fishermen, processors and canners handling PNA skipjack tuna to commence fishing in accordance with the MSC chain of custody program to meet our supply demands,” says Durkan.

The PNA free school purse seine skipjack fishery in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean was certified about a year ago, but the mostly foreign fishermen operating in the area are not motivated to fish sustainably. As a result, the fishery is still missing its Chain of Custody (COC) certification and Pacifical tuna – the cobrand for the sustainable skipjack – cannot be delivered to the market. COC is necessary because it ensures the MSC certified catch is kept separate from the non-certified tuna throughout the entire supply chain.

Besides Coles in Australia, major retailers in Switzerland (Coop), Austria (SPAR) and Denmark (Dansk) have publicly declared their need for Pacifical canned tuna in recent months. They all plan to offer the sustainable products under their private label brands, with each tuna can bearing the Pacifical logo on top.

“We are very pleased with the flood of requests from our retail partners and we hope the boat owners in PNA Waters will now very soon start the supply of MSC tuna. There is a strong global demand for MSC skipjack tuna and the fishermen should not ignore this opportunity any longer, and fill this gap in the market. They should engage now,” says Cynthia Gonzalez, Pacifical’s marketing and communications manager.

Pacifical values the entire ocean ecosystem and believes only free swimming schools of mature skipjack should be targeted to ensure the future health of marine populations, conserving all species. Only the catch on free schools of skipjack in PNA waters is considered sustainable by the MSC. The current catch, which is mostly with FADs, and which has a significantly higher level of by-catch of various species of small tunas, sharks, turtles and mantas is considered to be threatening the entire ecosystem, and therefore not sustainable.

About Coles:
Coles is one of the fastest growing food retailers in the world, operating more than 740 supermarkets across all States and Territories of Australia. The chain sells an extensive range of seafood products in its stores including over 40 lines of canned skipjack tuna products that are sourced from the Western Central Pacific Ocean. It has served Australian families since 1914 and sees 18.6 million customer transactions each week.

About the PNA countries:  The eight PNA (Parties of the Nauru Agreement) countries are Federate States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. The Nauru agreement concerning cooperation in the management of the fisheries between these countries was signed on 11 February 1982. These countries together supply 50% of the world skipjack tuna from their waters. On December 13th 2011, the Marine Stewardship Council issued its certification for the sustainably managed free school skipjack purse seine fishery within the waters of these eight island nations.

About Pacifical: Pacifical c.v is the global marketing company jointly set up by the PNA countries in 2011 to actively trade their MSC certified skipjack. To provide the best possible communication with buyers, and to be geographically close to our target markets, the marketing office of Pacifical is based in the Netherlands. Pacifical MSC skipjack products include: frozen whole round, frozen precooked loins, canned tuna, pouched tuna, tuna meal and tuna oil.