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World’s First MSC-Certified Sustainable Tuna Now Available In Select Grocery Stores And Restaurants


Product launch celebrated at the International Boston Seafood Show

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) celebrated the first certified-sustainable tuna products to reach the market following MSC certification of the American Albacore Fishing Association (AAFA), the first tuna fishery in the world to achieve sustainability certification. The MSC is a global, independent nonprofit organization that has developed an internationally recognized environmental standard for certifying sustainable and well-managed wild capture fisheries.

The MSC hosted a reception Monday morning at the International Boston Seafood Show where guests sampled both canned and smoked tuna and heard from MSC Chief Executive Rupert Howes, AAFA fishermen and Carrie Brownstein, Seafood Quality Standards Coordinator at Whole Foods Market®, where MSC-certified AAFA tuna, under the brand American Tuna, is now available.

The AAFA tuna fishery is a small fishery made up of family owned boats on the west coast of North America. There are 21 boats in the association catching around 3,000 to 4,000 tons of albacore tuna per year using pole and line and troll and line techniques. In September of 2007, AAFA passed MSC’s rigorous third-party assessment process and became the first tuna fishery in the world to be certified to the MSC standard and earn the right to use the MSC’s distinguished blue eco-label. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) partially sponsored AAFA’s bid for MSC certification, assisting with financial and technical support.

Natalie Webster, who along with her husband Jack “Bandini” Webster was part of a group of fishermen who co-founded AAFA, says MSC certification will help secure the future for fishing families like theirs. “Since we received MSC certification we’ve had increased interest in our fish,” she said. “Buyers from all over the U.S. and places in Europe are calling us wanting our products. People want to eat sustainably caught fish, and the MSC label is in demand.”

In the United States, MSC-certified AAFA products labeled American Tuna Smoked Tuna and American Tuna Canned Tuna are available at Whole Foods Market stores. The canned tuna is available nationwide, and the smoked tuna is carried in select stores. “As part of Whole Foods Market’s commitment to responsible management of our ocean’s resources, and to the MSC for making this critical link between sustainable fisheries and our shoppers who love to eat seafood, we are excited to offer this quality MSC-certified tuna,” Carrie Brownstein said. “Our shoppers will have peace of mind knowing that their tuna was caught from a well-managed fishery using low-bycatch, habitat-friendly fishing gear. The flavor of the canned American Tuna is special partly because the fish is cooked only one time, so the natural juices released are not lost and they retain a superior, almost sweet flavor. The smoked American Tuna found in our seafood department is smooth and rich and comes in several delicious flavors.”

The American Tuna brand was created five years ago by six fishing families who wanted to initiate a grassroots effort to educate consumers about their sustainable pole and troll harvest method and the quality of their tuna.

The MSC’s Rupert Howes said certification of the AAFA fishery is a perfect example of the win-win that can be achieved with the MSC program. “Generations of families in AAFA have fished for tuna and today’s fishermen have a legacy and livelihood to preserve for their sons, daughters and grandchildren. Meeting the MSC standard demonstrates they are preserving the stocks and being good stewards of the marine environment for the future. Their certification to the MSC standard is opening up new markets for them and giving consumers more options for environmentally responsible choices in tuna.” The MSC anticipates wider participation by tuna fisheries and increased consumer demand for sustainably caught tuna. Several other tuna fisheries have entered confidential pre-assessment with independent organizations that assess fisheries for certification to the MSC standard.

“Consumers today are becoming increasingly aware that the choices they make impact the world around them well into the future,” said Meredith Lopuch, director of WWF’s Community Fisheries program. “We congratulate the AAFA fishery on their MSC certification and hope that other tuna fisheries are encouraged to improve their practices so that both people and nature benefit.”


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