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TUPA: a united ambition to bring more responsibility to the canned tuna market

TUPA: a united ambition to bring more responsibility to the canned tuna market

The Tuna Protection Alliance (TUPA)

With nearly five million tonnes fished annually, tuna is one of the most important fisheries in the world. It is also a booming industry worth billions of dollars. But today one third of these stocks are over-exploited or at limits of over-exploitation, due mainly to inadequate and opaque management of tuna fisheries, giving free rein to illegal and uncontrolled fishing practices that are putting pressure on this delicate ecosystem.

The Tuna Protection Alliance (TUPA) is an initiative driven by canned tuna market players who recognise that retailers, producers and fleets must work together to quickly adopt better fishing practices and management to restore balance and safeguard resources for future generations.

Launched in September 2018, TUPA focuses on skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis), yellowfin (Tunnus albacares), bigeye (Thunnus obesus) and albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga), which account for the majority of tuna stocks. The members share the same commitment and also work to build cohesion with all stakeholders in the sector.

TUPA has three main objectives:

  • Preserve the resource
  • Fight illegal fishing
  • Respect workers' rights

The group works to implement progressive change while taking into account socio-economic, environmental and scientific recommendations.

TUPA members (as shown above) are joined by Earthworm France as coordinator, and a number of organisations who contribute their valuable expertise of the tuna industry. Contributors currently are WWF France, the FIAC (Federation of Preserved Food Industries), Orthongel (French organisation of frozen tuna producers) and the IPNLF (International Pole & Line Foundation). Their role is to provide a critical views of the group's orientations and actions. Therefore, these organisations can advise, make suggestions and challenge the group's strategy.

Key activities 2018

At launch in September 2018, the Tuna Protection Alliance's ambition was organised around two major axes:

  • Development of transparency and monitoring tools
  • Communication, with one voice, to stakeholders in the sector

To the end of 2018, the group worked to build greater transparency of their supply chains by mapping their market sourcing. They found that in 2017-2018, TUPA members’ volume was approximately 100,000 tonnes of tuna.


In 2017-18, 97% of members' supplies came from purse seine (net fishing), of which 86% was under FADs (using fishing aggregating devices)
Yellowfin tuna was the most represented species, followed by Skipjack tuna. The main fishing areas are the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic-East
Almost 90% of supplies were traced back to ships, representing around 500 vessels supplying group members

OceanMind, a UK-based non-profit, was chosen to support the Tuna Protection Alliance on specific monitoring issues. Using satellites and artificial intelligence, OceanMind is helping to ensure supply chains are free of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fish. It conducted a multi-level analysis: verifying the identity of vessels and their activity at sea; particularly by studying their trajectory, thanks to the automated identification system (AIS) signals. The following indicators were monitored for compliance:

  • Declared gear type
  • Fishing activity in the declared regional fisheries management organisation (RFMO)
  • Fishing activity within marine-protected areas
  • Fishing activity with management measures implemented by RFMOs

Key activities 2019

This year, three major actions are being undertaken:

Exploring tools

As well as continuing our work with OceanMind to gather in intelligence that informs members’ sourcing strategies, we are exploring and using innovative monitoring tools. These will ensure the robust traceability and integrity of product claims related to purse seine FAD-free and Pole & Line catch.

Delivering recommendations

We are delivering concrete recommendations for responsible tuna that minimises the impact of each fishing technique (Purse Seine fishing -both FADs and Free School sets-; Pole & Line); as well as guidance to several FIP (Fishery Improvement Projects) and MSC fisheries related to the group’s supplies.

Advocacy actions through active participation at the NGO Tuna Forum
The NGO Tuna Forum started in 2017 brings together 21 organisations that work comprehensively on tuna sustainability issues globally. The Forum works to elevate inter-NGO engagement and increase market partner engagement where possible on issues and opportunities that fall within one or more of the following core focus areas: RFMO management and advocacy, market-based mechanisms for improving sustainability, and on-water research, activities and improvements.

The Forum seeks to build on, enhance and elevate the work already being done through coordination and collaboration, and to generate greater impact through the power of consistency among NGOs, that in turn improves engagement from the value chain.


Before entering the Tuna Protection Alliance, all companies must share the group’s values. These values are transcribed in a document entitled ‘Manifesto for a more sustainable tuna sector’. This manifesto reflects the common ambition of the group: by 2025, to offer responsible tuna for sale.

Click here to view the Tuna Protection Alliance Manifesto

Further information

If you would like any more information about the Tuna Protection Alliance you can reach out the coordinators:

  • Florie Loth, group coordinator
  • Jeanne Delor, project manager on monitoring

Please call on +33 3 20 31 63 39 or send us a message.

You can also join us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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