Making the Process of Commercial Fishing More Sustainable

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Understanding the Process of Commercial Fishing

Commercial fishing is necessary in order to provide seafood products to families around the world. Tuna fishing on a larger scale requires specialized fishing methods that result in larger, more efficient catches. Commercial fishing methods often face criticism for the amount of tuna caught from the oceans as well as the resulting effects this has on marine ecosystems.
Conservationists are not the only ones worried about the sustainability practices of the commercial fishing industry. Responsible seafood manufacturers such as Clover Leaf have recognized the need to become more sustainable for some time, in order to preserve the long-term health of tuna stocks and marine ecosystems. This involves assessing the fishing methods used and identifying best practices that limit the catch, and help to reduce bycatch (Tuna Sustainability, 2010a) levels, thus minimizing the impact on ecosystems.
Taking steps to become more sustainable today is something that affects everyone who relies on the ocean as a reliable source of food.

How Is Clover Leaf Improving the Process of Commercial Tuna Fishing?

Clover Leaf sources tuna caught on FADs (Tuna Sustainability, 2010b) because it is an extremely effective way to fish. The amount of bycatch in purse seine FAD fisheries can vary widely depending on the region, time of the year, vessel, crew experience, and more. Clover Leaf sources from oceans with bycatch levels that are actually quite low (The Clover Leaf Seafoods Family, 2014).
As a founding member of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), Clover Leaf is working extensively with them to assess fishing practices in order to lower bycatch levels even further. The ISSF is a global organization composed of leading scientists, members of the tuna industry and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world’s leading conservation organization, all of who are focused on promoting science-based initiatives for the long term health of tuna stocks, reducing bycatch and promoting ecosystem health.
Since 2011, ISSF’s Bycatch Project has conducted globally coordinated cruises with fishers and scientists to gain input to identify improvements within the tuna purse seine fishery focused on reducing environmental impacts of fishing for tuna with FADs. The researchers’ findings are used in skipper workshops, globally, resulting in identification of best practices, new techniques and enhanced technologies to further minimize bycatch on FADs and improve management of tuna fisheries (Patterson, 2014).

The Coalition to Combat IUU Tuna Fishing

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessels continue to be a major obstacle to successfully attaining sustainability standards across the entire tuna fishing industry. These vessels do not report catch data to Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) which causes gaps in the reporting used to manage and monitor the sustainable use of tuna stocks around the world. 
Clover Leaf is part of a coalition that was formed to actively combat IUU tuna fishing activities. The ISSF requires that its members forgo transactions with vessels that:
  • Are not flagged to a country that is participating in its RFMO.
  • Are not on an authorized vessel list from an RFMO, or
  • Are on an RFMO’s IUU list (Miguel Jorge, 2014).
Clover Leaf is dedicated to improvements which help these vessels to fish legally while working with them to develop and adopt sustainability standards, which focus on preserving the future of the tuna fishing industry.
More work remains to be done, and Clover Leaf is doing its part to ensure that the process of commercial fishing is changed to ensure that seafood remains an abundant food source for generations to come.

Works Cited

Miguel Jorge. (2014, July 2). ISSF: A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO ENDING IUU. Retrieved October 15, 2014, from ISSF:


The Clover Leaf Seafoods Family. (2014). FAQ - Greenpeace says fishing on FADs is destructive. Why does Clover Leaf fish on FADs? Retrieved October 10, 2014, from Clover Leaf Sustainability:

Tuna Sustainability. (2010a, December 23). Glossary: Bycatch. Retrieved October 10, 2014, from YouTube:

Tuna Sustainability. (2010b, December 23). Glossary: FAD. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from YouTube:

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