On Friday 30th of May, at the worldwide Infofish Conference in Bangkok, Friend of the Sea will award two main tuna producers – Vito Gulli, CEO of Generale Conserve and Hagen Stehr AO Chairman of Clean Seas – for their efforts in sustainable seafood production.
“Friend of the Sea Award aims at encouraging and motivating seafood companies to lower their impact on the environment and on the exploited stocks” explains Dr Bray, director of Friend of the Sea “Some tuna stocks are endangered, however some companies are also making efforts to keep their production sustainable. Furthermore tuna and pelagic species’ fisheries have generally a lower impact than white or groundfish fisheries, because of negligible impact on seabed, higher selectivity, species resilience. This is why Friend of the Sea decided to deliver this year the award at Infofish.”
The two winners of the Friend of the Sea Award 2008 come from the antipodes – Italy and Southern Australia – but they both share a life of experience in the tuna fishing, farming and processing business and convincement that tuna can be produced in a sustainable way.
Mr Vito Gulli is CEO of Generale Conserve, producing the ‘As do Mar’ premium range of pelagic products – tuna, mackerel and sardines – all of which are Friend of the Sea certified. In particular Generale Conserve’s tuna comes from the company Cofaco in the Azores. Fishermen of these Portuguese islands, half way between Europe and the US, use the Pole and Line method to catch tuna. POPA, an onboard observer program, coordinated by all involved stakeholders and funded by the EU Interreg/Feder, has been carried on for almost ten years now. Observers monitor bycatch (only 0,4%) and compliance with environmental regulations, but also provide awareness for the fishermen and collect valuable data on dolphins, sharks, turtles, whales, marine birds and the tuna stock itself. Mr Gulli has understood the ethical and economical added value of sustainability and has made it its flag, importing, processing and distributing only sustainable Friend of the Sea certified products, in particular only tuna fished by pole and line vessels.
Mr Hagen Stehr AO, Chairman of Clean Seas, has lead the company to become the first organization in the world to create an artificial breeding regime for the Southern Bluefin Tuna. The closure of its lifecycle will allow sustainable production of this premium endangered species. The breeding breakthrough should give Clean Seas the ability to at least duplicate Australia’s Southern Bluefin Tuna annual quota within the next few years and to dramatically grow the aquaculture industry without impacting the wild stocks. Professor Abagail of the University of the Sunshine Coast has been part of the Science advisory committee actively involved in the reproductive and genetic aspects of the project, which is also supported by the IATTC. Mr Stehr’s achievement shows the potential of the farming industry for improvement towards sustainability and should motivate others in the seafood business to follow, in an effort to reduce or possibly eliminate their environmental impact. Mr Stehr’s comprehensive environmental engagement is also leading Clean Seas towards being carbon neutral by the end of June and made the company the first one in the Southern Hemisphere to obtain ISO 14001 Environmental Management certification.