The Co-operative has unveiled a new tuna sourcing policy that extends its own commitments and “holds big brands to account”.

The retailer has widened its tuna sourcing policy to include branded canned tuna suppliers, Princes and John West, but has set a deadline of the end of 2017 for brands to source tuna from fisheries improvement projects (FIPs), working towards the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard.

The move aims to ensure that fish stocks are sustainably managed and fisheries do not negatively impact the marine environment.

Cathryn Higgs, head of food policy at the Co-op, said: “Consumers are rightly concerned about fish stocks and the methods used to catch fish. We have been a leader in sustainable tuna sourcing but have now extended our commitments. We are also setting out clear expectations for branded tuna suppliers because of concern from consumers about protecting tuna fisheries for future generations.”

Ruth Simpson, Princes corporate relations director said: “Achieving long-term tuna sustainability is an ongoing priority for our business. Since July 2016, we’ve had a public commitment to sourcing our tuna from fisheries that are Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified or in a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) with the objective of MSC certification.”

Paul Reenan, MD at John West Foods, said: “We welcome the Co-op’s extended tuna commitment which mirrors that of John West, and we are pleased to confirm that all of our supply to the Co-op will meet its new sustainability commitments and deadline. Through our investment in Fishery Improvement Projects, which aims to bring fisheries up to the standard required for MSC certification, we are focused on increasing the supply of sustainable tuna for retailers and consumer alike.”

The Co-op’s deadline to branded suppliers is part of its revamped tuna commitments. Its own brand tuna pole and line sourced policy has been widened to ensure its fisheries are either MSC certified or part of a fisheries improvement project (FIP). In addition, all branded canned tuna has to be in a FIP by the end of the year.