Sustainability FAQs

1

Sustainable Seafood

1.1 What is sustainable seafood?
1.2 Why is sustainable seafood important?


2

About WWF and John Wests Partnership 

2.1 What is WWF, what does it do, and where does it operate?
2.2 What will John West & WWF’s partnerships achieve?
2.3 What is John West’s overall approach to sustainability?
2.4 What role is WWF playing in this partnership?
2.5 Why has John West partnered with WWF?
2.6 What are the key aims of the John West & WWF partnership?
2.7 What changes have already occurred to the John West seafood range?
2.8  What does the partnership between WWF and John West mean for customers? 
2.9  How will John West be working with suppliers? 
2.10  How is the Australian seafood industry foreseen to develop over the next five to 10 years with the introduction of seafood sustainability policies by major suppliers such as John West?
2.11  When did the partnership start and what is its duration?
2.12 Is the partnership with John West limited to Australia?
2.13 Where can I get more information about this partnership?


3

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

3.1 What is the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)?
3.2 Why does WWF support Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)?
3.3 What is John West’s commitment to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)?
3.4 Which of John West’s products are Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified?
3.5 How do I know a product is certified by MSC?


4

Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)

4.1 What is the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)?
4.2 Why does WWF support Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)?
4.3 What is John West’s commitment to ASC?


5

2012 Canned Tuna Ranking Guide

5.1 What does it all mean and how did John West respond?
5.1.1 Does your company have a Sustainability Policy?
5.1.2 What fishing methods are used?
5.1.3 What Tuna Species are used?
5.1.4 What information appears on your labelling?
5.1.5 Is your company showing support for marine reserves and equitable tuna policies?
5.1.6


What about the use of illegal, unregulated or unreported fishing?


1

Sustainable Seafood

1.1 What is sustainable seafood?
Sustainable seafood comes from fisheries or aquaculture operations that do not threaten the survival of fish populations, damage the environment or incidentally have a negative impact on other species or habitats.

This means fish species are able to thrive in well-managed fisheries and are caught using best practice methods that reduce any potential unwanted bycatch particularly threatened, endangered and protected species such as dugongs, turtles, seals and dolphins.
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1.2 Why is sustainable seafood important?
Although our oceans are the principal livelihood for over 200 million people and provide 950 million with their primary source of protein, they are not an inexhaustible supply of food and other resources.

In fact, our oceans have been pushed to their limit due to:

  • Destructive fishing methods
  • Fishing gear causing the incidental catch of other species
  • Overfishing - approximately 87 per cent of marine fish populations worldwide are fully exploited, overexploited, depleted or recovering (FAO 2012)
  • Fishing policies that lead to government subsidies and fuel unsustainable commercial fisheries

By making the choice to buy and eat only sustainable seafood, humans can still consume seafood while contributing to the long term health of our oceans. Choosing sustainable seafood not only preserves our oceans but also supports those fisheries operating sustainably and encourages others to do so.

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2

About WWF and John Wests Partnership

2.1 What is WWF, what does it do, and where does it operate?
WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, with over five million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries.

WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature by:
  • conserving the world’s biological diversity
  • ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable
  • promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
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2.2 What will John West & WWF’s partnerships achieve?

By 2015, John West will source its seafood where possible, from:

  • Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries
  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified farms.

If these products are not available, we will use:

  • responsibly sourced seafood products as advised by WWF, or
  • seafood products sourced from a fishery or aquaculture operation undergoing an improvement project recognised by WWF.
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2.3 What is John West’s overall approach to sustainability?
As the largest branded seafood supplier in Australia and New Zealand, John West is dedicated to playing a role in the long-term health of our oceans, which is why we have developed the John West Sustainability Commitment – Our Oceans Forever.

This commitment is based on 3 core beliefs developed to ensure long-lasting change: Respect for Resources, Commitment to Innovation and Passion for People
  1. Respect for Resources commits John West to responsible and ethical sourcing of its fish supply and working alongside national and international bodies to implement practical solutions.
  2. Commitment to Innovation will ensure John West works closely with its fish suppliers to continually improve and develop sustainable fishing practices as well as develop new products that will allow its customers to make informed purchasing decisions.
  3. Passion for People looks at the human impact of the fishing industry from our customers making informed seafood purchasing decisions to the wellbeing of the fishing communities we engage with.
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2.4 What role is WWF playing in this partnership?

WWF is currently playing an advisory role to John West while the brand takes the necessary steps to ensure its entire seafood range is responsibly sourced by 2015.

This advisory role sees WWF provide input into the development and implementation of John West’s sustainable seafood strategy and action plans by giving expert advice on the sustainability of John West’s range and recommending transitions to more responsibly sourced product where appropriate. In addition, WWF is helping to educate and train John West’s suppliers and team members on responsible sourced seafood.

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2.5 Why has John West partnered with WWF?

John West recognises WWF as one of the world’s most trusted and recognised brands and one of the leading authorities on marine sustainability. Because of this, WWF is well placed to advise John West and help engage all involved in the seafood industry - including producers, industry, government, organisations and customers - to encourage positive change.

John West has engaged WWF for expert advice and guidance on the sustainability of their seafood offer, both wild caught and farmed.

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2.6 What are the key aims of the John West & WWF partnership?
This partnership is seeking to improve the sustainability of John West’s seafood supply chain, educate consumers about responsibly sourced seafood, and help consumers make informed purchases through the use of clear and accurate labelling of all seafood products.
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2.7 What changes have already occurred to the John West seafood range?
John West launched a range of pole and line caught skipjack tuna early in 2012 & a range of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified Skinless & Boneless Salmon in July 2012. In addition to this, our range range of red & pink Alaskan salmon products have been MSC certified for a number of years. The MSC certification of these products means these products have met the MSC’s strict chain of custody criteria which ensures full traceability.
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2.8 What does the partnership between WWF and John West mean for customers?

John West is committed to offering more responsibly sourced seafood to customers. Furthermore, John West has committed to ensure traceability of all its seafood products and remove any species that are of immediate concern.

By 2015, John West will source its seafood where possible, from:

  • Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries
  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified farms.

If these products are not available, we will use:

  • responsibly sourced seafood products as advised by WWF, or
  • seafood products sourced from a fishery or aquaculture operation undergoing an improvement project recognised by WWF.

This will provide customers with the peace of mind, trust and confidence that the seafood they are buying is coming from well-managed fisheries that are not having unacceptable impacts on the marine environment.

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2.9 How will John West be working with suppliers?
John West will be working with all suppliers to improve the sustainability of the seafood they use. For example, this will mean that fish may need to be sourced from different fisheries where the species is not under pressure from overfishing.

John West has committed to sourcing Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aqua culture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified seafood, where it is available in sufficient quantities. John West has also committed to ensuring the traceability of all seafood products, promoting and improving transparency and awareness amongst customers, employees and other key stakeholders.

Suppliers will need to know where their fish is being sourced from to ensure these are fisheries that are not overfished, as well as having clear and accurate labelling of all seafood products.

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2.10 How is the Australian seafood industry foreseen to develop over the next five to 10 years with the introduction of seafood sustainability policies by major suppliers such as John West?
John West hopes that the seafood industry will flourish and grow in a responsible and sustainable manner. We see better seafood traceability as an important part of this growth and providing customers with the comfort that they know where their fish is coming from and it is sourced sustainability.
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2.11 When did the partnership start and what is its duration?
The WWF and John West Sustainable Seafood Partnership commenced in February 2012 and it is a three year partnership.       
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2.12 Is the partnership with John West limited to Australia?
No – it includes John West products sold in New Zealand.
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2.13 Where can I get more information about this partnership?
You can visit the WWF-Australia website.
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3

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

3.1 What is the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)?
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is a global, not for profit organisation working with fisheries, seafood companies, scientists, conservation groups and the public to promote the best environmental choice in seafood.

The MSC’s fishery certification program and the distinctive blue MSC seafood eco-label displayed on products recognise and rewards sustainable fishing.
MSC certifies fisheries, seafood products and restaurants when they meet MSC’s standards.

Fisheries must prove that their fishing activity is at a level which is sustainable for the fish population, that they minimise their environmental impact and they have a management system in place to respond to changing circumstances and maintain sustainability.

The MSC chain of custody standard for seafood traceability makes sure that the MSC label is only displayed on seafood from a MSC certified sustainable fishery. It means that consumers and seafood buyers can have confidence that the fish they are buying can be traced back to a fishery that meets the MSC environmental standard for sustainable fishing.

Restaurants can also be MSC certified if they can prove they source seafood from an MSC certified fishery and they meet the requirements of the MSC chain of custody for seafood traceability.
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3.2 Why does WWF support Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)?
The MSC label gives you a simple way to identify – and purchase – fish from well-managed fisheries. If you buy, or request seafood that comes from responsible sources, you are helping to protect the marine environment and ensure that seafood is available for many years to come.
WWF considers MSC the most credible certification to ensure sustainable fisheries management.
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3.3 What is John West’s commitment to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)?

John West has committed to developing and implementing responsible sourcing policies that promote the MSC and ASC and their certified products. It is committed to sourcing MSC and ASC certified seafood, where it is available in sufficient quantities.

By working together, John West and WWF also aim to educate consumers that MSC certified products, along with ASC products, are a more responsible choice for seafood.

MSC certification is John West’s assurance that products come from a fishery that is responsibly managed. The MSC promotes sustainable oceans through three principles of:

  • Sustainable fish stocks
  • Minimising environmental impact
  • Effective fishery management
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3.4 Which of John West’s products are Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified?
The following John West products are MSC certified;
  • John West Red & Pink wild Alaskan Salmon
  • John West Skinless & Boneless Salmon

These products carry the distinctive blue MSC certification eco label.

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3.5 How do I know a product is certified by MSC?
You can spot seafood that meets the MSC standard by looking for the distinctive blue MSC eco-label. This gives you a simple way to identify and purchase fish from sustainable sources.
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4

Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)

4.1 What is the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)?

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is an independent, not for profit organisation established to manage global standards for responsible aquaculture.

The ASC works with aquaculture producers, seafood processors, retail and food service companies, scientists, conservation groups and the public to promote the best environmental and social choice in responsibly farmed seafood.

Products that meet the ASC standard are certified as coming from a responsible aquaculture source and carry a distinctive ASC label.

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4.2 Why does WWF support Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)?
Globally, almost half (by volume) of the seafood we eat comes from aquaculture – the fastest growing food production system in the world – and aquaculture’s contribution is expected to continue to rise. As a conservation organisation that protects the world’s oceans and coastal habitats, WWF believes the seafood industry can improve its practices so the growth of the industry has little to no negative impact on the environment now and in the future.
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4.3 What is John West’s commitment to ASC?
John West is committed to increasing the responsibly sourced aquaculture seafood it supplies and sells and has a preference for purchasing ASC certified seafood.

By working together, John West and WWF aim to educate consumers that ASC certified products along with MSC products are a more responsible choice for seafood.
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5

2012 Canned Tuna Ranking Guide

5.1 What does it all mean and how did John West respond?

An increasing number of people are asking questions about where their food comes from. 

Annually Australian tuna companies like John West are sent a survey by Greenpeace and asked to answer a number of questions about our tuna sourcing. Greenpeace uses the responses they receive to rank canned tuna brands.

We are proud of what we are doing for the sustainability of tuna stocks and participated in this survey in an open and transparent manner.

Here is a summary of the answers we provided. We hope this information gives you a better understanding of the many complex issues around tuna sustainability.

The methodology of the Greenpeace tuna survey covered six main areas. 
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5.1.1 Does your company have a Sustainability Policy?
This criteria is checking to see whether a company has made a public commitment to sustainability and has effective policies in place to ensure products are produced sustainably.

What we’re doing
  • We have a tuna sustainability sourcing policy and it is available on our website.
  • In 2011 we engaged MRAG Asia Pacific (an independent fisheries and aquatic resource consulting company) to assess the sustainability of our tuna suppliers.
  • We are in the process of developing a robust tuna traceability system.
  • As part of our broader Sustainability Commitment, ‘Our Oceans Forever’ we have partnered with the world’s largest independent conservation organisation, WWF. This partnership will ensure all John West Australia’s seafood will be sustainably sourced by 2015.
  • John West is working with WWF to improve the sustainability of our seafood supply chain in Australia and New Zealand and to educate consumers about sustainably sourced seafood, including Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified products.
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5.1.2 What fishing methods are used?
This criteria explores issues and makes judgments around fishing methods used by a company.

As you know, there is a lot of discussion around the environmental, social and economic impacts of various fishing methods. This is a very complex issue, which we will unpack for you. The Greenpeace criteria for the survey suggests that the ideal method for catching tuna is pole and line fishing or purse seine fishing without FADs as a secondary option.

These options are often presented as simple solutions, but this is not always the case.

What about pole and line?

Currently the pole and line fishing method represents only 10% of the world’s total tuna catch. Pole and line fishing depends on the availability of baitfish, which is released live into the sea to attract tuna schools. John West launched a range of pole and line caught tuna earlier this year.

A key concern for expanding pole and line fisheries to replace purse seine catches is the requirement of large amounts of bait to be harvested. This has sustainability implications which we believe need to be further researched. For further and more detailed information relating to pole and line fishing please refer to these papers:

Ensuring Sustainability of Livebait Fish
Replacing Purse Seining with Pole-and-Line Fishing in the Western Pacific: Some Aspects of the Baitfish Requirements

The following is an overview of key issues to be further considered:

  • Do certain regions have the ability to produce enough bait to support an expansion of pole and line fishing?
  • What impacts would an increase in the use of baitfish have on the marine environment? For instance, this would reduce the amount of forage available for larger fish species on which subsistence and commercial fisheries depend.
  • What impacts would this increase have on the multitude of small scale and subsistence and commercial fishing activities that currently produce food for villages and towns in these regions?
  • What fisheries management plans need to be in place to protect baitfish species?

What about FAD free?

Tuna can be caught using purse seine nets with fish aggregation devices (FADs). A FAD is simply a floating device used to attract fish. For further and more detailed information relating to FADs please refer to this paper.
  • Over 90% of purse seine sets on FADs are successful, compared to only 50% of sets on free-schooling tuna and the total catch of tuna in weight per set is also higher. Drifting FADs usually have location devices, so they’re relatively easy to locate, while free schools are often encountered by chance. This has implications. FAD fishing saves time, resources and fuel.
  • FAD free and FAD caught tuna needs to be kept separate right through the supply chain, that is from the catch, through transportation and the manufacturing process. To achieve this, changes are needed in the tuna industry to accommodate this requirement. 
What we’re doing

  • We are addressing concerns about fishing methods by working closely with WWF, the International Sustainable Seafood Foundation and other seafood experts to support research and development projects aimed at improving the current management practices around the use of FADs.
  • We are working with the WWF to improve the environmental performance of tuna fisheries in the Pacific Ocean. Our projects will help fisheries reduce the accidental capture of other marine species (also known as ‘bycatch’). Our objective is to meet the highest international standards for bycatch reduction.
  • We launched a range of Pole and Line caught skipjack tuna in February 2012 which returns to traditional fishing methods of ‘one line, one fish,’ eliminating the risk of bycatch. This offers our consumers an alternative.
  • Almost all of our tuna is sourced from members of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation – a leading authority on tuna sustainability.
  • John West has invested in the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation’s ‘Bycatch Mitigation Practices’ forum aimed at developing more sustainable tuna fishing practices.
  • John West supports the Western Central fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and the Parties to the Naru Agreement (PNA) to ensure FAD fishing in the WCPO is managed sustainably these measures include:
    - an annual three month ban on FAD fishing
    - the requirement for independent observers to be on fishing vessels at all times to monitor catches and compliance
  • Through our partnership, John West supports the WWF position on FADs and recognises that if there is no way to source sustainably from FADs, then only tuna caught without using FADs will be sourced in order to meet our 2015 sustainability goal. 
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5.1.3 What Tuna Species are used?
This criteria focuses on the tuna species used because some species of tuna are seen as less sustainable than others. For example Bigeye or Yellowfin tuna are considered to be overfished. 
 
What we’re doing
  • John West does not use Bigeye or Yellowfin tuna in our products.
  • Around ninety three per cent of John West tuna products use the Skipjack tuna species. The remaining 7 per cent use Tongol tuna.
  • Skipjack is considered to be the most sustainable tuna species.
  • We are supporting our suppliers in the development of a Fisheries Improvement Program, focusing on the sustainability of Tongol tuna used in our products.
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5.1.4 What information appears on your labelling?
This criteria looks at making information available to consumers, enabling them to make an informed decision at the time of purchase.

What we’re doing
  • We have changed the labelling of all our John West tuna products to ensure the species name, catch area and catch method is included.
  • To ensure accurate information is consistently provided to our customers, John West has been working closely with our suppliers and industry associations including the Australian Food and Grocery Council and the Thai Food Processors Association to develop a world class electronic traceability system. This system will allow us to collate data and provide transparent information to our customers about the origins of our products.
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5.1.5 Is your company showing support for marine reserves and equitable tuna policies?

This criteria looks at whether a company is offering public support for the establishment of marine reserves (protected areas in which fishing has been restricted in the interest of conserving the natural environment). It also considers whether there are equitable tuna policies aimed at ensuring the livelihoods of fishermen.

What we’re doing
  • John West publicly supports the use of marine reserves as a component of integrated marine resource management.
  • The work we will undertake with our WWF conservation projects will provide support and recognition both socially and economically to local communities where tuna is harvested.
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5.1.6 What about the use of illegal, unregulated or unreported fishing?
This criteria looks at whether a company guarantees their supply chain does not include operators that engage in illegal, unregulated or unreported fishing. Illegal fishing takes place where vessels operate in violation of the laws of a fishery. Unreported fishing is either unreported or misreported to the relevant authorities. Unregulated fishing refers to fishing by vessels without nationality or vessels flying the flag of a country not party to the regional organisation governing that fishing area or species.
  • The most obvious impact of IUU fishing on developing countries is the direct loss of the value of the catches that could be taken by local fishermen.
  • IUU fishing has an impact on the sustainability of the ecosystem as IUU fishers rarely comply with the regulations following by legitimate fisheries.
  • IUU fishing may lead to reduced food security in communities heavily dependent on fish as a source of protein.
What we’re doing
  • John West does not source its tuna from operators that engage in illegal, unregulated or unreported fishing.
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