Wild Planet Foods Tuna

The Wild Way

For millennia the earth has been a thriving, prolific planet teeming with life. It goes without saying that human survival is dependent upon the wellbeing of earth’s ecosystem and, therefore, we all have a moral obligation to preserve and protect our wild planet by putting its health before economic gain.

To that end Wild Planet Foods is committed to looking for ways to maximize the health and resources of our wild planet and, thus, boost its food production output and its ability to sustain harvesting. Food is one of the most important things we can obtain from the planet. Wild Planet stands for a balance between producing healthy food while at the same time maintaining a flourishing planet. That is the WILD WAY.

Here at Wild Planet, we are serious about what we sell. Since 2004 we have been selecting only the finest quality, 100% sustainably caught seafood for all of our packaged products. We source our tuna exclusively from pole and troll catch fisheries, never using purse seine or long-line gear. Pole and troll fishing has been rated the best catch method for sustainability by a consensus of eco-organizations including The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch ® Program, Greenpeace and Fishwise. It is our goal to provide market driven change in global harvest practices as well as impact consumer choices in seafood consumption through education.

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Leadership

William F. Carvalho (Pictured on the right)

A seafood industry veteran with 24 years of experience, William (Bill) Carvalho leads Wild Planet Foods as its president. Prior to starting Wild Planet in 2004, Mr. Carvalho headed up Carvalho Fisheries which he founded in 1990 and grew to become a major primary receiver and producer of West Coast seafood products. His visionary skills and industry acumen over the last decade has helped pioneer a number of niche markets in the seafood arena such as the creation and development of live Dungeness crab and the European export for Albacore tuna. Mr. Carvalho has used his industry expertise and natural food ideals to help position Wild Planet’s shelf-stable product line as a leader in the specialty and sustainable seafood category. Mr. Carvalho is currently a director and secretary of the American Fishermen’s Research Foundation, an organization whose mission is to obtain scientific data for sustainable tuna stocks. He speaks at domestic and international conferences and is viewed as a leader in the seafood sustainability movement.

William J. McCarthy (Pictured on the left)

William (Bill) McCarthy serves as vice president of operations and procurement at Wild Planet Foods. He brings over 25 years of industry experience to the company in which he oversees, amongst many other things, the procurement of only the finest wild seafood from fisheries that are sustainable and free of habitat destruction. Mr. McCarthy was instrumental in positioning Wild Planet’s product line to capture the interest of a growing consumer base that was looking for higher quality products.

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True to the Wild Planet mission, every product we offer meets these sustainability criteria:

  • The BIOMASS of fish is healthy and not overfished
  • The HABITAT is not damaged by the fishing method
  • The CATCH METHOD is free from excessive by-catch of juvenile fish and other non-targeted species

Skipjack Tuna Albacore Tuna

Albacore and Skipjack Tuna

Wild Planet sources albacore and skipjack tuna only from pole and troll fisheries. Numerous fleets around the world use this artisanal small-scale method and deserve our support. This catch method is considered a BEST CHOICE in harvest technique by a consensus of international environmental organizations studying this issue.

We may expand our sourcing as needed from other pole and troll fisheries, all of which are nearly by-catch free and are not overfished. NO PURSE SEINE OR LONG-LINE CAUGHT TUNA is used in our product line.

Source: See more info on albacore tuna and skipjack tuna at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch ®

Traceability

All purchases made of tuna products are documented by dolphin safe and certificate of origin certificates which include:

  • Vessel name and license
  • Captain name and license
  • Country vessel registration
  • Harvest method
  • Area of Capture
  • Trip dates of capture
  • Dolphin safe declaration

These data points provide the basis to determine that the fish landed are actually derived from the fisheries determined to be conservation best choices. Verification of these facts are confirmed by Wild Planet personnel through documentation audit and vessel inspection. Traceability of products by vessel name is documented and maintained in the transit, storage and product of finished goods.

We hope this gives you a clear understanding of our commitment to conservation and our methods as we endeavor to play a role within the seafood industry and retail stores to advance the health of tuna stocks and marine ecosystems.

With over 70 percent of the earth’s surface covered by water, it goes without saying that this is truly an ocean planet. Thus, as the oceans go so goes the planet and our oceans are not doing very well. Almost 90 percent of all fish stocks are either fully exploited or overexploited as noted in the following 2012 United Nations FAO report.

“The declining global marine catch over the last few years together with the increased percentage of overexploited fish stocks and the decreased proportion of non-fully exploited species around the world convey the strong message that the state of world marine fisheries is worsening and has had a negative impact on fishery production. Overexploitation not only causes negative ecological consequences, but it also reduces fish production, which further leads to negative social and economic consequences.”http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i2727e/i2727e.pdf (page 12)

What this report is saying, in effect, is that the oceans cannot hold up under the increased harvesting efforts from larger numbers of participants who have greater harvest capacity. Most importantly, destructive techniques must be eliminated. Harvesting the ocean’s resources is a privilege that must rightly be given only to those who practice selective, sustainable harvest methods.

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There are many ways to catch fish. Some techniques only catch the intended species while others also trap unintended species resulting in injury and death to many sea creatures, some of which are already endangered. This is referred to as by-catch.There are four principle kinds of fishing methods:

  • Pole and line fishing
  • Troll fishing
  • Purse seine fishing
  • Long-line fishing

Here is a summary discussion of these methods.

  • Pole and Line Fishing
    Pole & Line Fishing
  • Pole and Troll Fishing
    Troll Fishing
  • Purse Seine Fishing
    Purse Seine Fishing
    1. Fish schools encircled
    by large net
    2. Net closed off at base,
    like a purse,
    3. Fish captured along
    with by-catch of
    non-targeted sea life
  • Long Line Fishing
    FADs
  • Long Line Fishing
    Long Line Fishing

 

Fishing for Tuna

There are 2 main methods used to catch tuna in commercial fisheries that Wild Planet endorses as the best practice methods:

Pole

Pole and Line

Pole and line fishing has been practiced for centuries in several different parts of the world. The method involves attracting a school of tuna to the side of a “bait-boat” by throwing live sardines and anchovies overboard. This creates a tuna “feeding frenzy” and fish are hauled out of the water, one-by-one, using pole and line. The size of the tuna caught this way is small, mostly consisting of albacore and skipjack, but also some yellow fin tuna.

There are two additional tuna harvest methods that Wild Planet considers as environmentally inferior and not in compliance with optimum conservation of marine resources:

Trolling

“Trolling” means to catch fish by towing a lure or baited hook behind a slow-moving boat. In the albacore fishery, trollers attach ten to twenty fishing lines to the vessel’s outriggers. These fishing lines are of different lengths and are also spread out along each outrigger to help prevent them from getting tangled up with each other.

Attached to the end of each line is a jig, which is a rubbery fishing lure with a hook in it. Jigs are shaped to look like squid and come in a wide variety of colors. The jigs are trailed in the water behind a moving boat, and some albacore will bite a squid-like jig and get hooked. The hooked albacore is immediately removed from the water and prepared for freezing.

Because jigs are designed to catch fish on the ocean’s surface, they simply cannot reach the older, larger albacore that swim in deep waters far below the surface. This is why other types of fishing gear are used to catch older albacore, and why “troll-caught albacore” always refers to the younger, Omega 3 rich albacore that are also demonstrably lower in mercury due to fewer years of feeding in the food chain.

To learn more about the low mercury content of surface caught albacore, please see the Oregon State University study: OSU Mercury Study.

These comments about surface caught albacore apply equally to the albacore caught by the other ecologically exemplary method – Pole and line.

Purse Seines with FADs

Go to Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Seafood Guides to get the facts on how harmful this method can be.

Purse seines are large nets that can measure over 2 km long and 200 meters deep. They are deployed in a circular form around a school of tuna, hanging vertically in the water column. Once the fish are completely encircled by the net, it is drawn tight at the bottom, like a purse, to prevent the fish from escaping below. It is then brought alongside the fishing vessel, hoisted out of the water, and the fish are brought on board. Purse seines are used to target mostly yellowfin tuna and skipjack, and on a world scale account for roughly 60% of all the tuna landed.

Purse seine fishing when practiced on free-swimming schools of tuna without the association with FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices) has a moderate by-catch mortality percentage. However, when practiced in connection with FADs, purse seining results in very high by-catch mortality of non-target species and non-target size tunas. The percentage of baby tunas caught prematurely in the FAD fisheries is likely the most serious problem facing tuna fishing. When tiny tuna are taken at a fraction of their mature weight the potential tuna yield of the oceans is prevented.

To illustrate the gravity of the problem of prevented yield, there are hundreds of millions of pounds of tiny tunas taken in FAD purse seine fishing operations globally. For the sake of a conservative argument, let’s assume the number is only 100,000,000 pounds. If the tiny tuna (mostly yellow-fin and big eye) are caught at an average weight of 5 pounds instead of growing up to an average mature harvest size of 50 pounds, then the premature capture by FAD that we call “Tuna Infanticide” prevents the additional yield of 900,000,000 million pounds of tuna. That is a billion dollars worth of tuna and a lot of sushi or grilled tuna steaks!

Long-Line

Long-line fishing is the most common method used to catch albacore worldwide. Long-lines attract a variety of open ocean swimmers, such as endangered sea turtles, sharks and other fish, resulting in wasteful by-catch* mortality. Also, as the line is deployed into the water, seabirds dive for the bait, are ensnared on the hooks and drown. Since there are no integrated international laws to reduce by-catch, international long-line fleets are contributing heavily to the long-term decline of some of these threatened or endangered species.

Long-line gear involves the use of a main line of up to 150 km in length from which as many as 3,000 shorter branch lines, each with a baited hook, are dangled in the water column. The mainline is kept afloat by a series of buoys attached at intervals. The gear is passive, in that it captures whatever fish happen to take the bait. Long-lines operate mostly at depths between 100 and 150 meters, but can be set as deep as 300 meters when targeting big eye. Long-lines are used to catch the high-value fish that are marketed as sashimi, historically in the Japanese market but also increasingly in North America and Europe. Since very high quality fish is needed for sashimi, most vessels are equipped with “flash freezers” to freeze the fish to -60oC almost immediately.

*BYCATCH

Most fisheries catch unwanted animals along with their target catch. This non-target catch, known as “by-catch”, is normally thrown back into the ocean, dead or dying. Tuna fishing is no exception to this rule. Long-lines, for instance, can catch sharks, rays, sea turtles, seabirds and many species of fish. Globally, it has been estimated that 200,000 loggerheads and 50,000 leatherback sea turtles are hooked by long-lines every year.

Purse seines, when used in conjunction with floating objects (known as fish aggregating devices, or “FADs” – used to attract schools of tuna), add to by-catches consisting of a diverse array of marine life, including dolphin fish, billfish, wahoo, triggerfish, barracuda, rainbow runners, sharks, sea turtles and baby tunas.

How was your tuna caught?

In most cases, canned tuna labeling does not include information on the catch method. If it is absent, you can likely assume the worst.

WILD PLANET SOURCES TUNA CAUGHT ONLY BY TROLLING OR POLE AND LINE

There is virtually no by-catch associated with the trolling or pole and line techniques, which are regarded as the best fishing methods for tuna, a fact worth remembering when you buy. Pole and troll caught tuna are considered the very best method for sustainability by a consensus of many Non-Government Environmental Organizations (ENGOs).

Wild Planet is proud to be in compliance with the green standards of Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, Blue Ocean Institute, Ocean Wise, Sea Choice and Fishwise. Greenpeace has also evaluated Wild Planet tuna products and has rated them as a top brand for sustainable sourcing policies.

For a more detailed discussion of the history of Wild Planet’s sourcing policy, please see the document: Wild Planet Procurement Policy Revised 2015

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Healthy, organically enriched soil is the foundation of healthy food production. Industrialized food production relies upon chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides to quickly manufacture food – this is NOT the Wild Way! Organic living topsoil, essential to keeping our planet viable, is the Wild Way. There really is no separation between land and sea. The chemicals and fertilizers which we apply to our farmlands are running off into our waterways leaving sea life and ecosystems in peril.

Wild Planet Foods supports environmentally-conscious organizations such as the Rodale Institute’s Your 2 Cents program, which works to increase the number of organic farms and farmers. We are also in favor of biodynamic farming and the slow-food movement whose goal is to produce sustainable food and promote local small businesses.

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What can be done to restore unspoiled vigor to our planet?

  • The ocean needs the fishing effort reduced and better, more selective harvest practices.
  • The land needs organically sourced nutrients and beneficial topsoil rebuilding.
  • World greed needs to take a back seat to life-sustaining systems.

Our goal at Wild Planet Foods is to educate and inspire consumers to make wise choices that will result in immediate health benefits for themselves and their families and a positive, long-term impact on our planet.