US Tuna Companies ‘Shell Out’ for Sea Turtles

Trio of companies pledge funds for conservation of endangered marine life

Some of the nation’s top tuna companies are putting their brands behind sea turtle conservation in longline tuna fisheries. Together they’re pledging more than $100,000 annually toward an initiative to be run through the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF).

“We’re happy to help industry put its money to work for the health of marine life,” said ISSF president Susan Jackson. “Turtles are fantastic sea creatures that are unfortunately facing an uncertain future.”

ISSF founding members Chicken of the Sea, StarKist and Bumble Bee are studying a range of projects from protecting turtle nesting habitats to providing circle hooks to funding research into turtle bycatch mitigation.

Details about the project are currently being finalized.

“Industry must take a lead role in the stewardship of our oceans,” said Chris Lischewski, President and CEO of Bumble Bee Foods LLC who also serves as chair of ISSF.

In US ocean waters all seven species of sea turtles are endangered or threatened. While pollution and shrinking habitat are among the many problems, the animals can also become the unintended catch of fishing vessels.

“There is a science-based need to protect sea turtles and whether the problem is pollution or fishing, the form of the threat to ocean life doesn’t dictate our response,” Lischewski said. “We respect the delicate balance in marine ecosystems and part of industry’s role must be to support conservation initiatives that can help maintain that balance or rebuild where it’s been weakened.”