Wild Planet is committed to rod fishing for the good of the planet
Bill Carvalho had 11 years in the seafood industry under his belt when a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in 2001 completely changed his trajectory.
At the time, he successfully ran Carvalho Industries, a seafood company that used conventional commercial fishing practices. But the “Oceans in Crisis” exhibition led him to rethink his business plan.
“This isIt made me think of what a miraculous, finely tuned symbiotic ecosystem exists on this planet that supports so much life and so many life forms,” he recalls. the ecosystem for profit. It seemed like the height of disrespect and irreverence, and it showed me that this industry that I was part of was going to exhaust the ability of this planet to continue to feed the human population and allow this diversity to continue. .”
Taking a risk, he immediately cut ties with fisheries that weren’t rated green by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program – at the time, the only entity in the United States attempting to raise awareness of the issue on a large scale. . For a large company working with 11 ports along the west coast, this was important.
“When I stopped some of the items I sold, I lost that income while all my expenses stayed the same,” says Carvalho. “I took the hard stance for sustainability when I could easily have lost our home and filed for bankruptcy.” In 2004, he ended his eponymous business and launched Wild Planet.
Prioritize rod fishing
Pole-and-line fishing is an age-old method of tuna fishing, based on catching a fish of the right species and size by a man. It’s basically the most sustainable fishing method available; unfortunately, it is not the most effective from a commercial point of view. Instead, conventional fisheries today use wide nets to catch tuna and anything that swims in the open sea.
In addition, most fisheries use fish aggregating devices: floating platforms that attract smaller fish trying to hide there, which then attract larger fish. Fishermen then wrap all the fish in a net, pick out the ones they want, and throw the rest dead overboard, creating a lot of unnecessary waste. “It is of particular concern that FADs catch the smallest of tuna, so they don’t have the opportunity to grow and produce a reasonable yield of meat for the catch of their life,” Carvalho said. “For example, they should be caught at 80 pounds, and are instead caught at 2 pounds.”
While scaling up rod and line fishing is the ideal scenario, that goal is still a long way off. “If over time there was a strong preference for pole and line caught products for ecological and social reasons, then there could be a demand for more of this type of fishing,” Carvalho said. “But for now, it’s just a fight to save these exemplary fisheries from extinction.”
To that end, Carvalho prioritizes education and encourages retailers to do the same.
On the retail side, it’s important that buyers review each sustainability claim against established standards. Carvalho recommends reading the Monterey Bay Seafood Watchh report on the species in question, discovering the best method of capture that preserves the species and the environment, and comparing it to the claims of a trademark.
“In the tuna world, the method that comes to the surface every time is pole and line fishing,” he says. “It is only through careful consumer choice that better methods can evolve. That is where our focus is.”