We are proud to serve tuna that comes with a signed statement that no fish aggregating device (FAD) was used.
Perhaps because the vast majority of the tuna Americans eat comes a precooked beige in cans, people seem to forget it’s a fish. Jessica Simpson famously asked if “chicken of the sea” was chicken or fish. Well Jessica, tuna are fish — and they’re in big trouble! All that canned tuna we eat is having a negative effect not just on tuna species like albacore and skipjack, but also on center-of-the-plate “fancy” tuna. To help reverse this dismaying trend, many conservation groups have called for a ban on the use of all fish-aggregating devices, or FADs.
What’s a FAD? It sounds innocuous enough. Fish like to congregate around objects in the water — underwater and on the surface. Scuba divers know this. That’s why they seek out reefs and sunken ships. Fishermen are also well aware of this predilection, too. For centuries, fishermen around the world have been making floating FADs out of bamboo, scrap wood, and metal or whatever they have on hand to attract fish.
What was harmless on a small scale becomes problematic as it gets bigger. According to 2012 research by Pew Charitable Trusts, there are now as many as 100,000 drifting FADs around the world — basically floating pieces of junk put into the ocean and equipped with transponders by the global purse seine fishing industry. These FADs allow industrial fleets to quickly find — and harvest — large masses of fish.
Here’s the catch (pun intended): Their purse seines are enormous nets that draw closed like a purse, surrounding and capturing all the life attracted to the FAD, not just the target species. That “bycatch” can include sharks, swordfish, marlin, and juvenile fish such as bigeye tuna — which then don’t have the chance to reproduce, further destabilizing the world’s fish populations.
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.