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Future-Proofing Tuna Production

Tuna are among the most commercially valuable fish on the planet and support small scale and industrial fishing alike. They are an affordable source of protein for people around the world. But many of the world’s valuable tuna species face a number of urgent yet common threats such as significant population declines, inadequate international management, mortality of non-tuna species (e.g., sharks, turtles, seabirds) from bycatch, and illegal, fishing. In 2017, among the seven principal tuna species, 33.3% of the stocks were estimated to be fished at biologically unsustainable levels.

As the methods of catching tuna have advanced over the years, the conservation and management of tuna has not evolved as quickly. Market demand for tuna remains high, and there are many factors that need to be addressed.

To protect the future of these apex predators, who underpin the ecosystems and economies of which they are a part, WWF is working with companies to source tuna responsibly, understand the origin of their products, and support needed market-based advocacy to improve upon tuna conservation.

WWF led (or supported) tuna Fishery Improvement Projects cover 21% of the total global catch of tuna.

© Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF


© Jürgen Freund / WWF

Addressing Conservation at Scale

Conserving the world’s tuna populations—and protecting the species that swim alongside them—requires addressing the greatest strain on populations: overfishing. WWF has adopted a combination of economic incentive-based tools and policy reforms that engages industry at several points in the value chain to drive change, advocates for improved management with governments and regional management bodies, partners with stakeholders to build technical capacity in developing countries, and supports innovation to cost effectively address conservation at scale.

© Kyle LaFerriere / WWF-US

Improving Fishing Practices

By engaging major global tuna brands, retailers, government, and NGOs, Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) help improve fishing practices and management to increase a fishery’s performance and help it meet the requirements of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard. 

To see WWF Fishery Improvement Projects, click here. 

By using the Global FIP Alliance for Sustainable Tuna (G-FAST) model WWF works to improve sustainability practices through directly engaging with tuna fishing vessel owners in formal comprehensive Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPS). Approximately 170 major tuna purse seiners are involved in G-FAST accounting for an estimated 20% of the global tuna catch.

To see G-FAST Fishery Improvement Projects, click here. 

© Bruno Arnold / WWF

Increasing the Volume of Certified Product

WWF has spent the last decade helping to organize the tuna industry around a set of common objectives to improve conservation and management with an initial goal of meeting the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard. Our progress to date includes creating a framework for change that can now be used to expand and scale efforts. In 2020, nearly 25% of global tuna catch for the four major market species of tuna is certified to the MSC standard.


End buyers are the external face of food supply chains and consequently inherit the accumulated risks of supply chain partners. Ensuring future value requires buyers to take a leadership role within supply chains, collaborating with partners to set commitments, take action, and demonstrate progress to reduce risks, guarantee sustainable product supply, and increase efficiency and profitability – all while protecting people and the planet.


Make a public commitment to source responsibly caught tuna.

Make a public commitment to source tuna that protects the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks, enables the reduction of bycatch, promotes biodiversity and ecosystem health, and is traceable to the source.


Source seafood certified by leading standards.

Sourcing tuna from fisheries that are certified by leading standards such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) with Chain of Custody (CoC) provides assurance that a product was caught in accordance with leading environmental practices.

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WWF recognizes the MSC standard as the leading environmental standard for wild-caught fisheries. The MSC Chain of Custody (CoC) Standard is a traceability and segregation standard that is applicable to the full supply chain from a certified fishery to final sale. To become CoC certified, every company that takes ownership of MSC product and sells it under the label is independently audited against the MSC CoC criteria.

Support the transition of source fisheries.

Encourage supply of tuna to transition to meeting the MSC requirements by sourcing from Comprehensive FIPs listed on FisheryProgress.org. Vessels should fulfill all ISSF ProActive Vessel Register (PVR) commitments and have a method of traceability from vessel to plate. Learn about WWF FIPs.

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In 2009, WWF joined with global canned tuna processors, non-governmental organizations and marine scientists to launch the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). ISSF advances the use of science-based initiatives for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks, reduction of bycatch and promotion of biodiversity and ecosystem health. ISSF provides a broad platform for industry leaders, governments and non-governmental organizations to work together to address the depletion of tuna. The 21 tuna companies participating in ISSF represent more than 75% of the global canned tuna industry by volume.

At a basic level ISSF Participating companies must also comply with various conservation criteria. For participating audit reports go to ISSF.

Ensure seafood products have strong traceability

Make a commitment to traceability by adopting GDST 1.0 – the first-ever industry-wide voluntary standards for seafood.

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Implementing robust traceability systems in supply chains makes it possible to obtain reliable, relevant information about many of the fundamental characteristics and qualities of seafood products.

Through the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST), WWF brought together a broad spectrum of seafood industry stakeholders from across different parts of the supply chain, as well as relevant civil society experts, and developed Standards and Guidelines for Interoperable Seafood Traceability Systems, known as GDST 1.0, to: improve the reliability of seafood information; reduce the cost of seafood traceability; contribute to supply chain risk reduction; and contribute to securing the long-term social and environmental sustainability of the sector.

Make a commitment to traceability and adopt GDST 1.0. For more information on the GDST and how you can commit to the standard go to GDST or contact info@nulltraceability-dialogue.org.


Be transparent

Make sustainable seafood commitments, as well as information regarding the environmental and social performance of seafood products, public, and report each year on progress towards specific goals. Strengthening accountability systems can substantially improve the performance of all actors across the supply chain.


To ensure the long-term sustainability of tuna stocks, WWF asks that companies support market-based advocacy in addition to making a sourcing commitment.
Join other industry leaders to address critical issues for tuna conservation and sign on to the NGO Tuna Forum annual appeal letter that is sent to delegates of the four tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs).
Email Michael.Griff@nullwwfus.org to learn more
Download and use social media assets
Use social media to address the need for 100% observer coverage in industrial tuna fisheries and at-sea transshipment best practices
Learn more about the NGO Tuna Forum 
Sign a petition
Set and announce time-bound goals and develop internal timeline with key milestones


Tuna Procurement Guidelines

Guidelines intended to provide a stepwise process to support tuna purchasers move toward sustainably sourced tuna product.

Sustainable Seafood Sourcing Recommendations: Fisheries

A tiered stepwise approach to engaging fisheries in their transition to sustainability.

How to Support Fishery Improvement Projects

What a FIP is, why you should support a FIP, what it means to be a FIP participant, and a list of tools to help establish a FIP if one does not already exist.

Fishery Improvement Project Fact Sheet

How a FIP works: the stepwise approach to identify sustainability issues in a fishery, implement improvements, and report on results.How a FIP works: the stepwise approach to identify sustainability issues in a fishery, implement improvements, and report on results.

FisheryProgress.org Brochure

About FisheryProgress.org, the fishery improvement project progress tracking website.

For additional helpful resources, please visit our Resource Library

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