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.