Bon Appétit Requires Tuna Suppliers to Give Up Fish Aggregating Devices

Pioneering food-service company commits to more responsibly caught tuna

Palo Alto, CA (July 29, 2014) — As any scuba diver knows, if you want to find fish, find a wreck. Scientists speculate that sunken ships and other floating objects create “visual stimulus in an optical void” that fish enjoy, or that they are simply attracted to the marine matter covering them. Fishermen are well aware of this phenomenon, too, and have relied on fish aggregating devices (FADs), the fancy name for floating ocean debris, for thousands of years.

“We are thrilled to see Bon Appétit lead the way toward more sustainable seafood purchasing for the food service industry.”
—Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, director of Seafood Watch®

However, as with so many food-production methods, scaling up this practice industrially has made it unsustainable. Bon Appétit Management Company is proud to announce that starting in January 2015, all of the skipjack tuna we purchase — currently 233,000 pounds, or 91.5% of all processed tuna we buy — will be caught without the use of FADs. Our supplier has committed that every tuna shipment destined for our cafés will be accompanied by a signed statement from the boat captain including date caught, location, and a commitment that no fish aggregating device was used.

“We are thrilled to see Bon Appétit lead the way toward more sustainable seafood purchasing for the food service industry,” says Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, director of Seafood Watch®. “We estimate that based on its current purchases, by sourcing only FAD-free skipjack tuna, Bon Appétit will be helping to avoid the bycatch of more than 13,000 tons1 of overexploited bigeye tuna and other non-target fishes each year.”

“It means a lot to us to be able to know where our tuna is coming from and how it was caught,” said Maisie Ganzler, Vice President of Strategy at Bon Appétit. “We would love to see more transparency in the seafood supply chain. Accountability is critical if we’re going to stop the destruction of our seafood supply and our oceans.”

Additional background

Industrial fishing operations will seek out or often create their own FADs and tag these pieces of floating junk so they can be found again, in many cases with sonar devices that also broadcast how dense the crowds of fish around them are. The FADs attract not only tunas, but a host of other marine life, including sharks, billfish, and juvenile fish. According to 2012 research by Pew Charitable Trusts, as many as 100,000 [updated] drifting FADs are actively monitored by the global purse seine fishing industry. A purse seine is an enormous net that is drawn closed like a purse, surrounding and capturing all the life in its path. While targeted tunas are hauled into the boat, unwanted species that congregate near the FADs often die (from being injured in the nets or other trauma) and are simply tossed back overboard. A boat using FADs to catch tuna can thus destabilize populations of sharks, swordfish, marlin, and juvenile fish, making FADs an extremely environmentally irresponsible catch method.

This Seafood Watch® video explains how the process works:

Since 2002, Bon Appétit Management Company chefs have worked hard to purchase only fresh and frozen seafood rated a Best Choice or Good Alternative for commercial buyers by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s respected Seafood Watch® program. We were the first food service provider to make this comprehensive companywide commitment to sustainable seafood.

About Bon Appétit Management Company

Bon Appétit Management Company (@bamco) is an on-site restaurant company offering full food-service management to corporations, universities, and specialty venues. Based in Palo Alto, CA, Bon Appétit has more than 500 cafés in 32 states. Its clients include Google, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Art Institute of Chicago. All Bon Appétit food is cooked from scratch, including sauces, stocks, and soups. A pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, Bon Appétit has developed programs addressing not only sustainable seafood but also local purchasing, the overuse of antibiotics, the food and climate change connection, humanely raised meat and eggs, and farmworker welfare. It has received numerous awards for its work, from organizations including the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year program, International Association of Culinary Professionals, the James Beard Foundation, Chefs Collaborative, Natural Resources Defense Council, Seafood Choices Alliance, The Humane Society of the United States, and Food Alliance. Media contact: Bonnie Powell, [email protected], 650.621.0871

About Seafood Watch

Seafood Watch® is a program of the Monterey Bay Aquarium that empowers consumers and businesses to make choices for healthy oceans, helping support diverse marine ecosystems for the future. Using science-based, peer review methods, Seafood Watch assesses how fisheries and farmed seafood impact the environment and provides recommendations indicating which items are “Best Choices,” “Good Alternatives,” and which ones to “Avoid.”  Seafood Watch raises consumer awareness through its pocket guides, website, smart phone and tablet application, and partnerships with businesses, zoos, aquariums and culinary leaders.


[1] Calculations are based on the assumption that all of Bon Appétit’s skipjack tuna is sourced from the Western and Central Pacific Ocean and that 100% would have come from FAD sources without the commitment. Bycatch rates for the calculation are derived from Dagorn et al. 2011. Is it good or bad to fish with FADs? What are the real impacts of the use of drifting FADs on pelagic marine ecosytems? Fish and Fisheries