The Princes Group has reportedly hit its 50 per cent yellowfin cut goal a year ahead of its 2022 deadline.
The move comes as the supplier aims to reduce its sourcing of the fish in a bid to increase the sustainability of stocks in the Indian Ocean.
The producer predicts its 2021 sourcing will equal approximately 16,141 tonnes of tuna, a 51 per cent reduction against a 2017 baseline of 32,768 tonnes.
However, it added that it will be difficult to continue its current momentum after the pandemic.
“We faced periods of closures and reduced production at our Mauritian canning sites, and whilst we maintained our supply of products, our sourcing did reduce somewhat,” Princes fish group director Neil Bohannon said.
“We need to flex our tuna sourcing as part of our multi-ocean strategy to ensure we can maintain the 50 per cent Indian Ocean yellowfin reduction next year.”
The business is also part of the Global Tuna Alliance and has been pressuring the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) to develop a plan to rebuild stocks.
An initial plan, which still missed the target to rebuild supplies within two generations, was proposed in June.
Members were set the maximum catch limit of 341,000 metric tonnes each, which would allow yellowfin stocks to rebuild.
However, five IOTC member states objected several months later and have now forced yellowfin back into the danger zone.
The company estimates that this will result in up to a 50,000 tonne increase if 2022 levels exceed 2019 catch rates.
It warns that this will far exceed the scientific advice and plunge the stocks far out of sustainable management.
Bohannon continued: “Putting sustainability first is a huge challenge.
“The ITOC’s rebuilding plan is a good first step, but the future sustainability of yellowfin tuna will remain at risk if a more robust rebuilding plan is not adopted.
“We will always play our part, but we are only one player in a much wider industry and everyone has to step up.”
Global Tuna Alliance executive director Dr Tom Pickernell added: “Long-term action is needed on the overfished yellowfin stock, and it is great to see an individual company making significant strides … to drive change.
“What is crucial now is that the IOTC supports these efforts with a formalised and scientifically sound rebuilding plan.
“This is what the Global Tuna Alliance has been asking of all IOTC delegates.
“If properly managed there will be enough tuna for everyone – a scientifically-led cut in catches now will rebuild stock.”