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3 Things to Know About How Tuna Gets to Your Plate

Overfishing, bycatch, and human-trafficking — three tuna supply chain issues The Nature Conservancy is working to solve

GIANT YELLOWFIN TUNA in the Pacific Ocean. © Jeff Rotman/NPL/Minden Pictures

You might not think twice before you buy tuna from your local grocery store — perhaps for a hearty tuna melt or a savory sushi roll — but did you know that, as of 2014, nearly 40% of global tuna stock has been classified as “overfished”? Persistent overfishing threatens tuna populations around the globe, and the collapse of fisheries has both devastating ecological and economic consequences. Here are three things to know about how tuna gets to your plate:

1. From the deep blue: Most of the world’s tuna — around two-thirds — originates in the western and central waters of the Pacific Ocean. In total, tuna fishing in this region is valued at $26 billion and remains a staple in many Pacific Island economies. For example, fisheries (primarily tuna) employ roughly 10% of the entire workforce of the Marshall Islands.

2. What’s down the line? More than 20% of the tuna market is caught via longline, which has an average bycatch rate of 28%. This means that more than a quarter of each haul includes other species like sharks, dolphins, and critically endangered marine turtles. Alongside overfishing, bycatch can destabilize ecosystems and jeopardize endangered populations.

3. An epidemic of abuse. Forced labor, human trafficking, modern slavery, and other forms of human rights abuses remain widespread in the Pacific tuna supply chain, according to a new report from the Business and Human Rights Centre. Although policies have been put into place, their white paper found little evidence of enforcement and implementation. The center estimates that the fishing industry at large accounts for 11% of the global enslaved population.

With the goals of preserving ecological balance, protecting fishermen’s long-term livelihoods, and addressing the industry’s human rights abuses, The Nature Conservancy is partnering with the Republic of the Marshall Islands to develop Pacific Islands Tuna (PIT). PIT, a sustainable tuna supply chain company, aims to implement new standards and practices that will preserve the tuna population, protect the environment, and benefit workers and local communities.

Join Mark Tercek, former President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy; Kelly Wachowicz, Managing Partner and CFO of Catch Together; and Howard Fischer, Founder and Board Member of Gratitude Railroad, to learn more about how PIT will work to transform the tuna industry for the benefit of both people and the planet.

Register here to join the conversation on September 14 at 5–6:30 pm ET/2–3:30 pm PT.

CapShift originally published this article in their email circulation for users and their greater network. To read more articles on the intersection of impact investing and philanthropy, visit CapShift’s Medium page.



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