PH Canneries fall short on sustainability, social responsibility issues

A new report released today by Greenpeace Southeast Asia revealed how major tuna canneries in the Philippines and Indonesia continue to fall short in providing customers with sustainably and equitably sourced tuna.

The report, “From Sea to Can: 2016 Southeast Asia Canned Tuna Ranking” examines the region’s tuna canneries and the integrity of their supply chains using a 7-point criteria, that sets a score of 70 as the minimum needed for the sustainability and viability of the industry.

“Once again, none of our local canneries have stepped up to take the necessary steps to ensure that their tuna products are sustainably and equitably caught,” said Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines. “They must aim for a score of 70 and above, which is essential for the sustainability and the viability of the industry.”

From the nine local canneries surveyed, the Philippines’ top performing canneries are: Ocean Canning Corp. (51.46, Fair), Celebes Canning (44.63, Fair) and Century Pacific Food, Inc. (44.09, Fair).

Last year, Greenpeace initiated a tuna cannery ranking of the region’s major canneries from Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines [1]. These Southeast Asian countries are among the leading suppliers of canned / prepared tuna to the international market, with combined exports totaling USD 6 billion in 2015 [2].

Tuna stocks face intense and increasing global pressure. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List (2016) listed Thunnus alalunga (albacore) and T. albacares (yellowfin) as “Near Threatened”, and T. obesus (bigeye)as “Vulnerable” [1]. Despite this, the Greenpeace report noted that most of the companies listed are still catching one or more of these species of tuna.

For the latest cannery ranking, Greenpeace tightened the burden of proof, particularly since labor abuses and destructive fishing practices remain widespread. This year’s results also showed a very disturbing trend among Philippine canneries that seemed unwilling to divulge information on whether the tuna inside their cans were sustainably, legally, and equitably caught.

An online Canned Tuna Consumers Survey conducted by Greenpeace found out that 96% of Filipino respondents want tuna brands to disclose detailed information about their supply chain and make this information readily accessible on their company website. Overwhelmingly, almost all individuals surveyed (99%) said that they want their favorite tuna brand to source only sustainably caught tuna, with no slavery involved, and that they believed they can help our seas by being informed consumers [4].

“In this age of global trade, where consumer awareness on the food is very high, supply chains matter. Our local canneries need to evolve and be at par with their international counterparts that put a premium on traceability and equity measures. Status quo is not an option,” said Cinches. “If canneries want to maintain their international market standing, they should comply with strict industry standards and do away with double standard practices, especially when disclosing public information only to a particular consumer market.”

Greenpeace also noted how one Philippine cannery prides itself as a “trusted tuna brand”, however the company submitted its response and supporting documents long after the deadline. “From the start, these tuna canneries should be open, transparent and aid consumers by providing pertinent product information on cans sold here or abroad. On the other hand, consumers should be discerning and do research to see if their favorite tuna brand is indeed reputable and if its parent company has strong environmental and corporate social responsibility policies in place,” added Cinches.

Comparing last year’s assessment with this year’s results, Greenpeace recognizes the meaningful improvement of many of the profiled companies [5]. Overall, however, the results are still far from what is necessary to protect our oceans and workers.

Greenpeace is urging tuna brands and processors to favor and source tuna that has been caught using more responsible methods, such as pole and line, handline, or FAD-free purse seine. The group strongly recommends that all canneries in Southeast Asia establish a publicly-accessible traceability system that provides better information for consumers, on or before 2020- this should include information about the origin of tuna, where and when it was caught, by which vessel, and when and where it was landed and processed.

Notes to the Editor:

[1] 2015 Tuna Cannery Ranking http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/press/reports/Tuna-Cannery-Ranking-/

[2] Explore here: http://www.trademap.org/Index.aspx

[3] The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 21 October 2016. http://www.iucnredlist.org/search

[4] See Greenpeace Canned Tuna Consumer Survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JX2S3CJ

[5] Full report of Canned Tuna Ranking 2016 here: http://bit.ly/from-sea-to-can

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