Today, the 2nd of May, marks  World Tuna Day. This year more than ever, the importance of celebrating Tuna , cannot be underestimated.

We see  globally,  economies shut down, the streets empty  and families in lock down at home, not just in New York,  but even in our  small island nations;  many of whom thankfully,   remain among the only nations in the world  still COVID  19 free, this  due in large part to self imposed border closures.

For many 1,000s of years  people turned to tuna for food security in times of uncertainty and civil strife.  Some refer to tuna as a “conflict food”  as it is highly nutritious, convenient, easily handled  and most important it is shelf stable. So it is well suited to feed people in wars and disaster zones. 

Personally I like to think of it as a “comfort food” and  enjoy it as tuna, more a luxury than a necessity.  But not all are so lucky! 

Under the  current global pandemic, we have reports of  3 months worth of sales of canned tuna leaving supermarket shelves in just 10 days with panic buying for food security  in the home. Tuna processors are referring to immediate  40-50% increased demand for retail cans.  Why?  Clearly the nutritional importance and convenience of canned tuna  in the home is recognized and is without question, and that is why World Tuna Day  is celebrated.

In our region,  which has the healthiest tropical tuna  stocks  found globally,  we are still  sustainably delivering  up to 70% of global supply of tuna  for canning.  But we have had to be proactive and make hard and timely decisions  to minimize unplanned disruptions to the sector. With  port closures, and the forced suspension of  the regions 100% observer coverage programs ,  we have  stepped up other management measures to maintain continued sound governance  of the fishery under VDS,  and  more importantly ensure that  the observers, fishers and our island peoples stay safe. 

We are very confident in the PNA,  that such measures will continue to protect the unique tuna stock status and keep this vital resource sustainable for our children in the islands and globally.

Tuna processors globally are also considered a vital industry  and are staying open, working  under rigid sanitation and social distancing regimes, which in some cases has impacted output.  With food retailers globally  remaining open, the tuna supply and distribution chains are being maintained despite many hurdles and with some inevitable delays.

But the situation is  fluid , long term solutions are needed  and  an outbreak in key processing centers could instantly change the dynamics of the supply sector from one processing hub to another. So please spare a thought  for our fishers,  processors, the service sectors, and others in the supply chain, who are not at home with families. Many of our people are  out at sea , they will  see extended trips  and for logistical reasons any return home to see family is for many impractical under current conditions. 

Please  join me in celebrating World Tuna Day  2020 and the recognition of the mighty tuna.