In a truly bizarre product offering, WHISKAS® presented a new line of bluefin tuna-flavored cat food before quickly eliminating the product “due to public concerns”, according to Greenpeace UK.
Bluefin tuna is listed by the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered due to overfishing. Despite population collapse and fears of extinction, the bluefin tuna has failed to receive a fishing-ban from their managing organization, International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), as well as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The bluefin tuna trade is a highly lucrative trade: estimated at 7.2 billion dollars annually.
While the WHISKAS® cat food, owned by Mars Inc, would not have contained any bluefin tuna (the first ingredients were actually meat by-products and poultry by-products), the product was meant to taste like bluefin tuna. According to the product’s slogan: “cats love classic ocean taste. That’s why we’ve crafted this blue fin tuna recipe just for them.”
It should be noted no species of cat, wild or domestic, hunt ocean life. As quickly as it appeared, the line has been discontinued “due to public concerns”.
Greenpeace UK ponders on their blog: “What’s next for Tiddles’ din-dins? ‘Roast Tiger flavour’? ‘Grilled Gorilla’? Or maybe ‘Limited Edition Dodo’?”
Earlier this month, Mars Inc. made news by stating it would use only sustainably-sourced seafood in its pet products, including Whiskas, by 2020. It is the first pet food company to make such a pledge.
The Atlantic bluefin tuna population has plummeted by 80 percent since 1970.
(04/01/2010) Mars, Inc. announced Thursday it will use only sustainably-sourced fish in its pet products, including PEDIGREE®, SHEBA® and WHISKAS® branded products, by 2020.
(04/05/2010) As a child I read about the near-extinction of the American bison. Once the dominant species on America’s Great Plains, I remember books illustrating how train-travelers would set their guns on open windows and shoot down bison by the hundreds as the locomotive sped through what was left of the wild west. The American bison plunged from an estimated 30 million to a few hundred at the opening of the 20th century. When I read about the bison’s demise I remember thinking, with the characteristic superiority of a child, how such a thing could never happen today, that society has, in a word, ‘progressed’. Grown-up now, the world has made me wiser: last month the international organization CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) struck down a ban on the Critically Endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna. The story of the Atlantic bluefin tuna is a long and mostly irrational one—that is if one looks at the Atlantic bluefin from a scientific, ecologic, moral, or common-sense perspective.
(03/18/2010) A proposal to totally ban the trade in the Critically Endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna failed at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), surprising many who saw positive signs leading up to the meeting of a successful ban.
(11/24/2009) Restaurants sampled in New York and Colorado are serving up bluefin tuna without informing their customers know they are dining on an endangered species, according to a new study in PLoS ONE. Using DNA barcoding researchers from the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics at the American Museum of Natural History found that nearly a third of tuna sampled in one restaurant in Colorado and thirty restaurants in New York served bluefin tuna, and nine of the restaurants did not label the tuna as bluefin.
(11/15/2009) The International Commissions for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) ignored the advice of its scientists to end fishing of the Atlantic bluefin tuna. Instead ICAAT set a quota of 13,500 tons of fish. This is not the first time ICCAT has flouted its own researchers’ advice: it has repeatedly set quotas well-above its researchers’ recommendations.
(10/29/2009) Scientists with the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) have said in a new report that a global ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna fishing is justified. ICCAT meets in November to decide if they will follow their scientist’s recommendations.