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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), the GTA (Global Tuna Alliance), and the IPNLF (International Pole & Line Foundation). Their role is to provide a critical view of the group's orientations and actions. Therefore, these organisations can advise, make suggestions and challenge the group's strategy.

Key activities 2020

  • Supply cartography: a mapping exercise will allow to bring transparency to the members’ tuna supply chain, including retailer’s brands, national brands, and catering products.
  • OceanMind analysis: OceanMind is a UK non-profit organization, using satellites and artificial intelligence to ensure supply chains are free of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fish. As a partner of the TUPA, OceanMind will conduct a multi-level analysis: verifying the identity of vessels as compared to the declarative data collected during the mapping exercise and their activity at sea; particularly by studying their trajectory, thanks to the automated identification system (AIS) signals. Responsible tuna recommendations: TUPA delivered concrete recommendations for a responsible tuna that minimises the impact of each fishing technique (purse seine, FAD and FAD-free, Pole & Line), as well as guidance to several Fishery Improvement Projects (FIP) and MSC fisheries related to the group’s supplies. In 2020, TUPA identified ten priority actions to implement by the retailers and the canneries, thus cascaded through the value chain until the fishing vessels.
  • Social issues study: following recent campaigns documenting forced labor and suspected observer deaths on tuna vessels, the TUPA coordinator will carry out exploratory bibliographic work on the social risks linked to the main fishing techniques used for tuna fishing
  • Pole and Line fisheries study: the TUPA coordinator will carry out a study on the Pole & Line fisheries that are contributing to supplying TUPA members in order to assess their practices and challenges they overcome.
  • Communication and advocacy: TUPA is part of the NGO Tuna Forum. This coalition brings together 21 NGOs and other individuals and organizations that work comprehensively on global tuna sustainability issues. With the help of this network, the group identified the main asks for all the tuna RFMOs (Regional fisheries management organisations). The priority subjects are gathered around 3 pillars: good stocks management and ecosystems, transparency, information, and data sharing. Since 2019, TUPA collaborates with the Global Tuna Alliance, an independent group of UK retailers and supply-chain companies. Together TUPA and GTA join forces for advocacy actions, on behalf of the French and UK market.


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 Eastern Atlantic Ocean.
Almost 90% of supplies were traced back to ships, representing around 500 vessels supplying group members

Since 2018

Since its launch in September 2018, the Tuna Protection Alliance's ambition is organised around two major axes:

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


Before entering the Tuna Protection Alliance, all companies must sign the charter and 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
  • Jeanne Delor

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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