The Sustainability of Clover Leaf Fishing Equipment

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Clover Leaf Fishing Equipment

Many consumers have long included tuna as part of a healthy diet, while others eat it simply because they love the taste. This increase in the worldwide demand for tuna has driven Clover Leaf to find innovative ways to continue meeting demand. Clover Leaf faces a growing dilemma: meeting global demands for tuna products while also ensuring tuna stocks remain strong to feed future generations. The solution is sustainability, and this is accomplished with the implementation of sustainable fishing practices and improved fishing equipment. Without sustainability measures being firmly rooted in place, the future of tuna stocks will suffer, and so will the health of oceanic ecosystems.
Clover Leaf sources tuna that are caught responsibly and sustainably using these fishing methods. About 80 percent of albacore tuna is harvested by long-lining fishing method. Long lining involves the use of a very long line (as much as 130km), which is supported by floats, marked with flags and set out from a fishing vessel. Branch lines attached to the long line are sunk with baited hooks to depths of 55 to 150 meters. It may take up to 20 hours to set a line, and even longer to retrieve it with the catch attached (The Clover Leaf Seafoods Family, 2014a).
Purse seining is another fishing method that accounts for about 80 percent of light meat tuna species catch such as Skipjack and Yellowfin. It is a technique which uses a net (known as seine) that is set vertically in the water. The net is used to surround and envelop the school of tuna when they are spotted. The bottom of the seine is drawn together or pursed, in the shape of a coin purse then lifted and hauled into the fishing vessel (ISSF, 2014). Purse seine fishing vessels commonly employ FADs to improve the efficiency of their catch. A FAD (Fish Aggregating Device) is a floating object in the water – either natural or man-made – that attracts certain species of aquatic life (Tuna Sustainability, 2010a).

Why Does Clover Leaf Fish on FADs?

The use of FADs is very common in purse seine fishing. Before FADs, purse seine vessels relied on spotting schools of tuna from above the surface of the water, after searching for them for an extended period of time.
Fishing with FADs allows fishing vessels to take a targeted approach to effectively harvest tuna while other fishing methods involve chasing these free-swimming schools and therefore using significantly larger amounts of fuel and resources (The Clover Leaf Seafoods Family, 2014b).
While purse seine fishing on FADs has been criticized for its high bycatch levels (Tuna Sustainability, 2010b), actual bycatch amounts tend to vary depending on the time of year and location where fishing occurs. Bycatch levels are actually quite low (under 2%) in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean where the largest percentage of Clover Leaf canned tuna is harvested (The Clover Leaf Seafoods Family, 2014c).

Improvements to Sustainability

While Clover Leaf sources tuna caught using FADs, the company is continuously working through the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) to further reduce bycatch levels using this method, through established best practices and commitments to environmental responsibility. The ISSF is a global organization composed of leading scientists, members of the tuna industry and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – the world’s leading conservation organization – focused on encouraging science-based initiatives for the long-term health of tuna stocks, reducing bycatch, and promoting ecosystem health.
Since 2011, the ISSF’s Bycatch Project has conducted globally coordinated cruises with fishing vessels and scientists to gain input that is used to identify potential improvements that can be made to the purse seine fishing method, focused on reducing the environmental impacts of fishing for tuna with FADs (Patterson, 2014). Findings from this project have already been implemented, for example, in the form of non-entangling nets for FAD fishing operations.
The use of FADs can be an environmentally responsible fishing method when properly monitored and managed (Laurent Dagorn, 2012). As a founding member of the ISSF, Clover Leaf sources tuna caught on FADs as a means of providing both sustainable and affordable tuna products to consumers both presently and for generations to come. 

Works Cited

ISSF. (2014). Purse Seine. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from International Seafood Sustainability Foundation:

Laurent Dagorn, K. H. (2012, October 3). Fishing with FADs – Good or Bad? Retrieved October 10, 2014, from ISSF:


The Clover Leaf Seafoods Family. (2014a). Tuna School - How it's fished and processed. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from Clover Leaf Seafood School:

The Clover Leaf Seafoods Family. (2014b). FAQ - Greenpeace says fishing on FADs is destructive. Why does Clover Leaf fish on FADs? Retrieved October 10, 2014, from Clover Leaf Sustainability:

The Clover Leaf Seafoods Family. (2014c). FAQ - How much bycatch is caught using FADs. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from Clover Leaf:

Tuna Sustainability. (2010a, December 23). Glossary: FAD. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from YouTube:

Tuna Sustainability. (2010b, December 23). Glossary: Bycatch. Retrieved October 10, 2014, from YouTube:

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