Our Sustainability Promise
John West is one of the leading suppliers of canned fish having been in operation since 1857. As the largest and best known supplier of canned fish, we take our responsibility to sustainable fishing and the marine environment extremely seriously. We have set out a definition for fish sustainability as:
For a fish to be defined as sustainably sourced it must: not be endangered or threatened; be caught by a well-managed fishery with scientifically based quotas, via responsible fishing methods; and be traceable from catch to consumer.
We believe that if we look after our oceans today, we can continue to provide our customers with the fish they love for years to come.
How We Fish
- John West sells a range of seafood products all of which are caught in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
- By the end of 2016, 100 per cent of our UK sales of tuna will be sourced by a mixture of pole and line and / or purse seine “FAD-free” (fish aggregation devices) sustainable catch methods.
- We partner with industry bodies and experts including the Earth Island Institute, Marine Stewardship Council and International Seafood Sustainability Foundation
Species we sell
Currently John West sells tuna (95 per cent is skipjack, the most abundant species, with the remainder yellowfin), salmon, mackerel, sardine, herrings, brisling, anchovies and shellfish. We have never been and will never be in the bluefin tuna business.
We are committed to deliver 100 per cent of UK sales of tuna through a combination of pole and line and purse seine FAD-free methods by the end of 2016. The sustainable sourcing plan will be rolled out across the tuna range from September 2011, when we will source 25 per cent of its UK sales of tuna by pole and line by the end of 2012, increasing to 50 per cent by the end of 2014.
By the end of 2016, we will source 100 per cent of its UK sales of tuna by a mixture of pole and line and / or purse seine “FAD-free” (fish aggregation devices) sustainable catch methods.
Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs)
We will encourage and support all purse seine “FAD-Free” initiatives.
We will only buy tuna purse seined on FADs where the boats are able to provide year-on-year best practice qualified audits of by-catch levels and have agreed to adopt measures to ensure 50 per cent by-catch reduction by 2014. We actively encourage and support scientific led fishing operations to reduce by-catch even further.
Long line and drift net fishing
We do not use or support long line or drift net fishing methods.
Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing
We take the issue of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing extremely seriously. We recognise the risks that IUU fishing can pose to the sustainability of fisheries and we do not buy fish from IUU vessels or fish that has been trans-shipped at sea. We review on a quarterly basis the official IUU lists published by Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) and we fully comply with EU regulations. To reduce the risks, we do not source fish from fisheries where there is a high incidence of illegal fishing. Furthermore, we support the disqualification of the parent company once any boat has been proven by RFMOs and/or competent authorities to have been acting as an IUU fisher.
UNCLOS and the Red List
We are committed to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which outlines a comprehensive set of rules to govern our oceans. In addition, we do not sell endangered or critically endangered species which appear on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Partnering with industry bodies
We understand the issues associated with sustainable fishing and work closely with our suppliers to ensure they are operating in a way which will help minimise the impact of our operations on the marine environment. Our selection procedure in appointing suppliers of our fish is very rigorous and includes environmental considerations.
Across all the products in our range we continue to work with our suppliers, governments, the EU and NGOs to maintain, improve and update on all environmental aspects of the food supply chain.
International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF)
John West is a founding member of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) which brings together scientists, the industry and the environmental NGO community to achieve sustainable tuna fisheries. ISSF aims to undertake science-based initiatives to support the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks.
Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an independent, global, non-profit organisation established in 1997 by the World Wildlife Fund, the International Conservation Organisation and major food companies. It works to ensure fish stocks are responsibly managed for the future and only awards its eco label to those fisheries that have achieved certification to its stringent sustainability standards. John West has a close affiliation with the MSC and is a strong supporter of the MSC’s mission to encourage and promote responsible, sustainable fishing practices globally.
Earth Island Institute (EII)
All our activities are monitored by the Earth Island Institute (www.earthisland.org), a non-profit organisation that supports people who are creating solutions to protect our shared planet. We only trade with suppliers who are EII approved. This partnership, for example, helps us ensure that all the tuna in our canneries is dolphin safe. In fact, the EII founded the Dolphin Safe programme in close collaboration with us over 20 years ago.
Marine Resources and Fisheries Consultants (MRAG)
We actively encourage independent monitoring. The Marine Resources and Fisheries Consultants (MRAG www.mrag.co.uk) is a consulting firm dedicated to promoting sustainable utilisation of natural resources through sound integrated management policies and practices. They regularly audit our business to help us improve further.
John West’s commitment to best practice is illustrated by its membership of Sedex - the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange - which is a membership organisation for businesses committed to continuous improvement of the ethical performance of their supply chains.
Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RMFOs)
We fully support the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) which exist to sustainably manage fish stocks. We collaborate with RFMOs on tagging programmes and information sharing to help better manage fisheries. For example, we provide RFMO’s with details of our tuna purchases to allow them to cross check against other sources.
The NGO’s vision is to transform the world by fundamentally changing the way people think about it. Our sustainable sourcing plan for tuna was developed in close consultation with Greenpeace and other industry experts.
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Where We Fish
- We don’t fish in areas where certain species are under threat from overfishing.
- We fully support the Pacific Commons Proposal which will allow fish stocks to recover and help to boost the local economy.
- We source fish from well managed fisheries which help to maintain stocks and protect ecosystems.
Where our fish comes from
All of our fish are sourced from areas that have healthy stock levels and we have strict respect for quotas allocated to each fishery. We do this through legal fishing only by registered vessels. We respect non fishing areas (i.e. spawning areas), fishing bans, moratoria (i.e. during reproduction) and minimum landing size.
The below outlines where we source our most popular products:
We only source our tuna from stocks that are well managed by Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) such as the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). All the tuna we sell is caught by either:
- purse seining (primarily from the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, with a small amount coming from the Western Pacific Ocean),
- pole and line (in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean).
Over ninety per cent of the tuna we use is sourced from our own factories in the Seychelles and Ghana where strict ethical trading and employment standards apply.
All the salmon used in our canned products is sourced from the USA and Canada where methods and quantities of sustainable fishing are tightly controlled by the governments in each country. All our canned salmon comes from reputable suppliers and is sourced from the wild. In particular, we source our salmon from Alaska because the Constitution of the State of Alaska commits to the sustainable management of fisheries.
Our mackerel is sourced from Canada, the UK, France, Spain and the Netherlands. In those countries we only deal through officially registered and recognised fishing companies monitored by their own governmental authorities and who adhere to their individual quotas according to each fishing ground.
Support for the Pacific Commons Proposal and Marine Reserves
The Pacific Commons is a network of regions between the Pacific Islands with declining stocks of tuna and other vulnerable marine life. The Pacific Island Nations have declared that the Commons should be off-limits to fishing and we are fully supportive of this initiative. We do not source any of its tuna from the Pacific Commons and encourages this programme which will allow fish stocks to recover and will provide a boost for developing economies in the region.
We source from stocks where catches are limited to maintain high productivity and good health of the wider ecosystem. We support management to ensure our demand does not outstrip the fisheries ability to supply. For example, all the mackerel used in our canned products is sourced from the North East and West Atlantic. The sardines processed in our factory are caught in the Atlantic (mainly Portugal) using small seines, and all the salmon used in our canned products is sourced from the USA and Canada. In every region, quotas and methods of sustainable fishing are tightly controlled by the governments of each country.
We fully support the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) which exist to sustainably manage fish stocks. We regularly review other lists of unsustainable fish stocks and details of efforts made to ensure minimal impact on endangered or protected species as by-catch, when making sourcing decisions.
We actively seek to source fish from well-managed fisheries because we are passionate about using fish stocks wisely and conserving ecosystems. We promote the use of best practice and work with all our suppliers to put into practice the actions recommended by the ISSF, by Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMO’s) and by qualified scientific authorities. We also support efforts to protect important spawning and nursing grounds and to rehabilitate critical habitats. We do this through implementing Marine Reserves and respecting no-take zones as recommended by RFMO’s and industry scientists.
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Committed to a sustainable supply chain
- We are the only UK and Ireland canned seafood manufacturer to allow customers to see exactly where their fish was caught and even the name of the boat which made the catch. You can see where your tuna was sourced by entering your unique code here on this website.
- Our tuna cans display a unique pole and line logo to make it easier for customers to know how their tuna is sourced.
- We are the only UK & Ireland canned seafood manufacturer to wholly own a fleet of boats.
- We help our suppliers to comply with national and international laws and agreements.
We go beyond the mandatory sustainability, fishing and environmental requirements to offer a higher standard of sustainability and risk mitigation that we ensure is independently assessed. We work closely with our suppliers, governments, the EU, Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMO’s) and NGOs to maintain, improve and update on all environmental aspects of the food supply chain. We have also implemented initiatives to reduce environmental impacts, including C02, throughout the supply chain.
We work with suppliers to ensure that the principles that underpin our sourcing policy are applied to improve the traceability of fisheries products back to their origin, strengthening buying procedures within the industry. For example, all our mackerel suppliers commit by contract to deliver mackerel that has been caught from sustainable sources implying:
Legal fishing only by registered vessels:
- Strict respect of the quotas allocated to each fishery.
- Respect of non fishing areas (spawning areas for instance).
- Respect of fishing bans and moratoria (during reproduction for instance)
- Respect of minimum landing size.
- No by-catch landings (vessels are equipped with escape tunnels / separation grids enabling potential by-catch species to escape).
Working with suppliers
We are always proactive in seeking information and technical advice from qualified scientific authorities and engaging with relevant NGOs. We work closely with our suppliers to ensure that fishing operations comply with national and international laws and agreements and with the stock management and fishing methods covered by the appropriate Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs). Where a supply cannot currently be sourced from a fishery that meets our requirements, we will either not purchase the fish, or we will work with the relevant management body to ensure that they improve to our standards.
All John West products display detailed information to guarantee the very highest standards of traceability, including the species, which ocean it was sourced from and even the specific vessel and exact trip which made the catch. From September 2011, cans in the pole and line range will also display a logo stating the catch specific method by which this tuna is sourced. Our range of salmon, mackerel and sardines will carry the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) logo which commits to source these species from MSC certified fisheries.
Our fleet and factories
We are the only UK and Ireland canned seafood manufacturer to wholly own a fleet of vessels. Owning our own fleet ensures we have visibility of our whole fishing supply chain right from the fishermen who make the catch, to the people who clean each fish and make it ready to be canned.
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